Voice of the Consumer - Katie Pelton

If you have plans for summer vacation or are headed to the pool, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is urging parents, grandparents and caregivers to get kids into swimming lessons to help prevent drowning.

During the COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns, many pools and recreation centers canceled classes. The AAP said it’s important to reenroll children into lessons and make sure they know how to stay safe around water.

"Drowning has been a leading cause of death in kids for a long time, and sadly it is still the leading cause of injury death in kids 1 to 4 in our country,” said pediatrician Dr. Sarah Denny, lead author of the AAP’s policy statement on the Prevention of Drowning.

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“It's really key that we're proactive in preventing these drowning deaths. So, when we release the American Academy of Pediatrics policy statement, we really focused on two different scenarios: One is when children are expected to be around water, and that's where we have layers of protection such as swimming lessons, lifeguards, adult supervision, life jackets, that kind of thing.

"Then there's the instance in which a child is not expected to be in and around water, so that would be if you have a swimming pool at your house and you're cooking dinner, you're not expecting your children to gain access to the water, so you may not have eyes directly on them. But there's still a drowning risk, so what can we do to prevent drowning in that scenario? And that would be four-sided fencing, door alarms, restricting access for the child to get to the water."

In 2017, more than 1,000 children died from drowning in the United States, according to the AAP.

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“Swimming lessons are great, and they've been shown in kids over 1 to decrease the risk of drowning, but it's important to remember, too, that swimming lessons don't drown-proof our kids,” Denny said. “When they are at the swimming pool, even if there's a lifeguard on duty, if you have a beginning swimmer, you should still be within arm's reach of that swimmer — really close parent supervision or adult supervision.”

“It's helpful if you're maybe at a lake or at a large gathering, to have an assigned ‘water-watcher’ and it's that person's duty and job to watch, without distraction, the kids in the water,” she added. “That means you're not on your phone, you’re not reading your book, and you can rotate that person every so often.”

The AAP said it’s important that your child at least knows the basics to stay safe this summer.

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"Swimming is a life skill. Even if you're not an amazing swimmer, or your child is not an amazing swimmer, they don't have beautiful strokes, they're not on the swim team, that is OK. But kids should be able to have enough training and skills to be able to get themselves up to the surface of the water, if they were to fall in and then get themselves over to safety,” Denny said.

You can read more about the advice from the American Academy of Pediatrics at kktv.com. Click on the red "find it" tab.

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