National Water Safety Month puts focus on drowning prevention

WARRENSVILLE HEIGHTS, OH (WOIO) - Drowning remains a top cause of death for children ages 1 to 14, so now is the time to make sure your kids are ready for a day at the beach or pool.

Swim instructors at Goldfish Swim School in Warrensville Heights said the earlier you enroll kids in any swim program, the better. Their classes start at four months of age.

Taja Salett's daughter Peyton is 4-years-old and has been taking lessons for about a month.

"I wanted her to know the fundamentals of swimming (and) pool safety," Salett said. "The last thing you want to do is have an experienced swimmer around your child that knows nothing."

Peyton has enjoyed the experience so far.

"I like going under water, and I like blowing bubbles," Peyton said. "I like to swim like a fishy."

The American Red Cross reports about 20 percent of drownings each year are children between the ages of 1 and 14.

Tyan Stowers is a desk supervisor at Goldfish Swim School. She said swimming is learned gradually.

"These are life essential skills you want them (kids) to master this," Stowers said. "We prepare them for having water in the face- just understanding how to breathe."

Skills every child should know:

  • Elbow, Elbow, Tummy, Knee. Work on getting in and out of the pool safely. You can practice this movement by having your child climb onto a couch or chair from the floor.
  • Jump, Turn, Swim to the Wall. Once they have the movement down, let your child jump off the side of the pool to you, help them physically turn back to the wall and then assist them in getting out of the pool by using the elbow, elbow, tummy, knee method. Eventually, let them go under the water and come to the surface on this own. If a child were to fall into a pool, this skill could help them find the quickest way to safety.
  • Sea Otter Float. Work with your child on turning over and getting his-her face out of the water to take a breath when he/she fatigues.

"We want everyone to know that swimming is a necessary life skill, and it's really important for kids to start an early age," said Sonali Morris, General Manager of Goldfish Swim School in Warrensville Heights. "You never know when you might end up in a challenging situation."

Morris reminds adults that there should always be a designated "water watcher" who will avoid using a cell phone, reading a magazine, engaging in conversation while kids are in the water. Experts also stress that floaties, noodles and plastic inner tubes do not protect against drowning- they're created as water toys.

Goldfish Swim School is hosting a family safety day on May 20 from 2 to 5 p.m. It's at the Fairview Park location at 21599 Lorain Road. There will be family swim accompanied by safety stations, face painting, crafts, snacks and more. Advance registration and tickets are required.

Peyton is ready to learn more techniques. Her mom is thrilled and said safety always comes before fun.

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