Staying Afloat: Drowning Prevention for Children

Water Survival Skills

By Rebecca Nieto
|  Wednesday, May 26, 2010  |  Updated 11:15 PM PDT
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Staying Afloat: Drowning Prevention for Children

Kimberly Fetterman

Do you own a pool? Know someone who does? Drowning is the No. 1 cause of death for children under 14 in California and that may be because there are more than 1 million pools here. So what can you do to protect your child?

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Do you own a pool? Know someone who does? Drowning is the No. 1 cause of death for children under 14 in California and that may be because there are more than 1 million pools here. So what can you do to protect your child?

The American Academy of Pediatrics is urging parents to enroll their small children (those under 4 years old) in swim class. But what age is the question? Infant Swimming Resource (ISR) teaches infants over 6 months old how to float before they can walk. And it teaches children ages 2 to 6 how to swim. But this is all contingent on a single child's developmental skills. Researchers say children develop at different ages and advise parents to work with their pediatrician before enrolling their child in any water class.

Researchers also said there is no scientific evidence water survival skills can be taught to infants. But ISR believes they can. Parents Davina and Jon Wiseman enrolled their 10-month-old daughter Kailani. In approximately six weeks, she has learned to float and keep her head above water. All before she has even taken her first baby steps.

"Everybody asks why we were doing it so young because she isn't walking yet. But we had talked about it. If she's already walking, isn't that too late?" says Kailani's mother.

Parents of 3-year-old Luke Hoch and 18-month-old Sienna own a swimming pool. They believe it is a parent's responsibility to give their child every defense available to keep them safe around the water. Luke and Sienna have both taken water lessons.

"If you are going to be around a swimming pool or you own a swimming pool, you have to do it," says father Mike Hoch.

Cathryn Van Der Linden is an instructor with ISR and says teaching children water survival skills is as important a precaution as using a car seat.

"What you can do is give them the back-up they need by training them to save their own lives, how to get in and out of the pool and to train them to respect the water before encouraging them to play in it," she said.

For more information on swimming and water classes with ISR go to its website: www.infantswim.com

You can also get water safety information from the American Red Cross.

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