While Memorial Day weekend brings families together for celebrations, barbecue and more — it also brings an additional threat: children near water.
Numbers released by the CDC show that drowning is the leading cause of death in kids under the age of 4. It’s a top 5 killer for several other age groups as well.
“Everything we can do to help prevent that is all the more beneficial for the kids,” said David Woitulewicz, the director of water activities at Aqua Tots.
Woitulewicz preaches children learning to swim at an early age. At Aqua Tots you’ll find children as young as 4-months in the pool. The idea is that children aren’t scared of water yet, and it’s the perfect time to get them acclimated.
“When you get them started early, they don’t develop any rationale fears,” said Woitulewicz. “They haven’t been exposed to drowning, that lack of breathing, so it’s easier to train them to understand breathe first, go under, exhale and get that first breath.”
7 Action News got a closer look at Aqua Tots when several classes were going. Whether it was children, toddlers, or elementary school-aged children, all of them were in the water learning skills ranging from swimming to simply learning how to float and make it back to safety.
Of course, knowing how to swim is only half the battle. Teaching children confidence near water is important, but Woitulewicz noted that it’s equally important to build a child’s understanding of the safety near water.
At the end of the day, parents bear the burden when it comes to creating a safe environment for children. Woitulewicz said children should only swim with a lifeguard present, and that children should always have an adult with them when they’re near water. He also said that parents should keep an eye on whether toys are left in pools or beaches.
“Most kids will reach for them, and that’s when you have a real problem,” he said.
The American Red Cross has a number of water safety tip for parents, including details about drowning statistics tied to boating trips.