What you need to know about your kid's water safety skills

By Andy Cerota - Anchor/Reporter

HOUSTON - Two toddlers are fighting for their lives after both were found unresponsive, one in a pool and the other in a hot tub in northwest Harris County.

Investigators said adults lost sight of a 2-year-old girl at a pool party and she was found unconscious in a hot tub. A few miles away, they said, another 2-year-old child got into a pool.

On Tuesday afternoon, Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez was at the Trotter Family YMCA, taking to social media to talk about and promote The Judah Project, a local charity founded after a family’s young son Judah drowned three years ago. 

1. In Texas, drowning is the second-leading cause of death for children. When you take a child to the pool, what’s the first thing you should do?

Designate one person to watch the pool at all times. A drowning can occur in an instant. The same rule applies not just at pools but at any and all places where children are in or near water. 

 

 

2. What is one mistake adults often make at events such as pool parties where there are children?

Gonzalez said adults will often assume that everyone is watching what the children are doing yet no one is. That’s why having a designated watcher is so important. 

3. When a child plans to go swimming, what’s the first thing they should do?

Ask the parent or caregiver for permission. At the Trotter Family YMCA, which offers swimming lessons, the instructors teach children that, no matter where they are if there’s water, they need to ask permission before they’re allowed to enter the water. 

4. Are water wings a good way to prevent a child from drowning?

Candi Revere, with the YMCA, says they are not. She says not to use anything on a child's arms that inflate. She encourages parents to use U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets or puddle jumpers. A puddle jumper is a foam device that goes on your arms and snaps in the back around your chest. Water wings can deflate or come off, and they give kids and parents a false sense of security. 

5. What should parents or caregivers be mindful of when they enroll children in swimming lessons?

Make sure the program teaches survival swimming skills. Part of what they should learn is that, if they are swimming and their lungs fill with water they should flip or roll onto their backs and float, so they can rest and breathe until help arrives. 

6. What’s a good age to enroll a child in swim lessons?

The YMCA offers swim lessons to children as young as 6 months old. 

7. What’s the biggest misconception about drowning?

When a lot of people think of drowning, they think of someone screaming and thrashing in the water, waving their hands violently. Water safety experts say that is not the case. Drowning is quick and silent. 

8. Are fences and gates effective?

Water safety experts say yes. A fence around a backyard pool is always a good idea. Make sure it’s at a height where a child can’t climb over it and that the gate locks. Some fences can be equipped with alarms.

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