Even in a crowd at a local water park, with her kids already knowing how to swim, Vanessa Leopard keeps a close watch.
“It still makes me nervous to think about it,” said Leonard. “That’s why I never take my eyes off of them.”
According to the CDC, about 10 people die every day from drowning. Males and children ages 1 to 4 are most at risk.
And it’s not always obvious when someone is drowning. That’s because often times, they physically can’t call out for help so you won’t hear them.
Some of the warning signs include, the person’s head is low in the water with their mouth staying at water level. The head may be tilted backward and their eyes look glassy. They’re also upright, not showing any kicking movements. And they often can’t physically wave their arms.
This YouTube video shows a child falling off a raft in a crowded pool and needing help, with no one seeming to notice until the lifeguard jumps in.
Swimming experts say if you see a child in trouble, don’t let them see you panic.
“Try and calm them and reach out with an object if you have one; a towel, a noodle, a kickboard,” said Beth Scheimann, Facility Manager at Discovery Island. “It can be your hand, it can be your foot and try to pull them safely to the side while you’re talking to them.”
Experts say taking part in formal swimming lessons greatly reduces the risk of drowning.
Greenville County offers classes for babies as young as six months with a parent.
“Take at least one swim lesson from somebody else,” said Scheimann. “That way if your child goes to a day camp or they go with another person to a water park or to a swimming pool, they’re not there with mommy and oh I’m comfortable with my mom or dad taught me to swim. And then all of a sudden with another parent, they may not be comfortable any more.”
Leonard taught her 4 and 6 year old early, but isn’t yet letting go.
“I never take my eyes off of them,” said Leonard.
If you can’t afford swim lessons for your child, check with your local YMCA. Many offer financial assistance.
Experts also say to always designate an adult to watch your child in the pool, even in the bathtub.
Make sure they always swim with a buddy.
Never rely on a pool toy, like a noodle, as a safety device.
If you’re child’s not a good swimmer, or you’re on boat or in the lake, use a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket.