The summer season has barely begun, and already in the past week four Illinois children have drowned. It's a reminder that having fun in the water can also be deadly. But there are ways to make sure you and your family can enjoy the pool or open water while staying safe.
"Drowning is a silent killer," said Rockford Dolphin Swum Club Aquatic Director Amanda Readette. "You're not gonna hear it."
And it can happen in a split second. That's all it takes for a fun summer day to turn tragic. So how do you protect your child? Swim lessons are a good start, and it's never too early to learn. The Dolphin Swim Club starts teaching kids as young as 4 months. And while children won't master free style or breast stroke at that age, they will learn.
"Breath control, water comfort, also the confidence in the water. As well as finding gross motor skills and working on their balance and coordination. all of the things that they need to swim," said Readette.
Readette adds being safe around the water means more than just knowing how to swim.
"The first step is just being aware of your surroundings, being aware of your hazards, whether it's in your backyard or the local pool," she said.
The Department of Children and Family Services says a child can drown in as little as one inch of water. That's where an adult's watchful eye needs to come into play.
"Make sure if you're with a child who is swimming, to be as close to them in the water as you can be. Not watching from a far. Keep close distance to them," said Magic Waters Director Zack McIntyre.
At Magic Waters, whether you're in the Tsunami Bay or Tiki Island, you'll see a lifeguard keeping watch. But McIntyre says moms and dads still play a big part in safety.
"We suggest that parents take their children wherever they're comfortable we encourage exploration of the water as long as the parent is with them," he said.
beyond the pool, experts urge parents and guardians to keep life jackets on children when heading onto lakes, rivers and ponds. But not just any life jacket will do. You have to make sure it's rated correctly for their age and their weight.
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