BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Drowning is the leading cause of death for children 1 to 4 years old, according to the CDC. Water supervision is limited with lifeguards still in short supply.
Many are looking for summer fun by the water, but accidents do happen. Whether you’re at the beach, lake or pool, Birmingham Fire and Rescue says it is crucial to have eyes on your children at all times, especially without lifeguard supervision.
Captain Orlando Reynolds said it’s not uncommon they receive calls about drownings. Kids can quickly wander off and fall into a water situation not knowing how to swim without floatation devices.
He said parents should always be prepared for drowning incidents like this- knowing to call 911 followed by chest compressions until professionals arrive.
“Knowing how to activate the emergency response system, it saves lives.” said Captain Reynolds. “It’s just that simple. So, anytime you can have any type of life saving tool in your tool belt, you have the opportunity in case something happens to make a difference in someone’s life.”
Swim instructors with Goldfish Swim School-Hoover said water safety can mean the difference between life and death, saying if a child can cover their nose and mouth in water when they are face down, they can drown.
This is why they have a passion for teaching survival swim skills to children 4 months old to 12 years old.
Assistant manager and swim instructor Noah Young says children learning basic skills in the water like holding their breath, rolling on their back to float, and grabbing the wall closest to them can save their life.
Young also notes the drowning process is often a shock to children.
“They’re walking on the side of the pool, they’re standing by the side of the pool, they fall in, slip in whatever, they’re surprised, they weren’t expecting that to happen,” said Young. “And so, teaching them how to work with that surprise, and learn where to go from that helps out so much because it just takes 30 seconds for a kid to drown.”
A local mother opened up about a swim scare she recently had with her young daughter.
Annette Rowland’s 4-year-old daughter, Emerson, jumped in the pool without a floatation device. Rowland briefly turned away, talking to a friend. When she turned back around, Emerson was under the water, unable to breath.
Rowland said she and her friend jumped in to save her daughter. She said the experience was traumatic, especially for her daughter, but notes she is thankful she got to her in time.
Rowland says the incident came as a surprise because of her own background with the Red Cross and as a lifeguard.
“But it just goes to show how quickly it can happen if you’re not paying attention,” said Rowland, who also serves as a spokesperson for the Red Cross. “And I think people think ‘Oh, if somebody is drowning, they’re going to make noise, it’s going to be loud, you’re going to see flailing.’ They’re so many signs that people assume come with drowning that don’t actually come with drowning and so, it’s really important to know what to look for.”
Rowland said it’s very important to designate a person who knows that it’s their job to watch the children around water and not be distracted, especially in group setting. Having a plan and knowing how to react in the event of an emergency is key.