Drowning Prevention Week Reminds Parents to Watch Kids Closely

By Jill Kasparie, Reporter

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Governor Branstad has proclaimed this week as Drowning Prevention Week in Iowa.

According to The Centers for Disease Control, every day, about 10 people die from unintentional drowning. Of those, 2 are children aged 14 or younger.

The weather is finally warming up enough to make that much desired trip to the local pool. Many kids love just about everything about swimming at Noelridge Aquatic Center or any pool, for that matter.

"If you have goggles you can see under water, so it's really cool," 7-year-old Hayden Johnson said.

He always has a buddy nearby -- his mom.

"It's so big and it does make me nervous. So I just try to sit and stay close by and make sure they don't go too far," said Cedar Rapids Mother Dana Johnson.

Health officials said an adult or parent should always be within an arm's reach of their child whenever they are in the water. Cedar Rapids Aquatics Supervisor Carolyn Hamilton said she's noticing that's not always the case.

"It's nice to sit in the lounge chair, let the kids go play and rely on the lifeguards, it's not for baby-sitting. When the kids are young like that we need to have the parents supervising," said City of Cedar Rapids Aquatics Supervisor Carolyn Hamilton.

Noelridge is one of the biggest pools in Cedar Rapids, but it always have 14 life guards on the watch.

"Lifeguard are trained practiced, ready to go but if you and your daughter or son are there and ready to go, it's so much easier and less hard on the child if you just lift them up or make sure they don't go in deeper water," Hamilton said.

The Iowa Department of Public Health said formal swimming lessons have been shown to reduce the risk of drowning in young children.

If you have a pool at home, one big tip from the health experts is to remove all the floats or balls from near the pool. Those can entice children to wonder out unsupervised.

Here is a list of tips from the Iowa Department of Public Health to consider as you put on those flip flops and swimming suits:

•An adult parent or caregiver should always be within arm's reach of their child whenever they are in or around water. Always designate a responsible adult who can swim and knows CPR to watch other swimmers in or around the water, even if they are at a life-guard attended facility.
•Formal swimming lessons have been shown to reduce the risk of drowning in children been the ages of 1 and 4, and provide essential skills to swimmers of all ages.
•Properly constructed barriers, including four-sided non-climbable isolation fencing and lockable gates can prevent or delay a child's unsupervised access to swimming pools and reduce the risk of drowning.
•The use of properly-fitted Coast Guard-approved life jackets by all boaters and by non-swimmers whenever in or around the water reduces their risk of drowning. In 2011, 70 percent of all people killed in boating incidents drowned and of those, 84 percent were not wearing a life jacket.
•CPR performed by bystanders has been shown to save lives and improve outcomes of drowning victims.
•Don't hold your breath too long. Trying to hold your breath underwater for long periods of time may cause the swimmer to pass out (called shallow water blackout) and may be a contributing factor in a significant number of drowning incidents.
•Avoid alcohol use while swimming or supervising children. Alcohol use is a contributing factor in an estimated 30 to 70 percent of adolescent and adult drowning incidents.
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