Drowning Prevention

July 20, 2009 7:16:42 PM PDT
Parents I spoke with say these recent drownings have really hit home. It's one reason they're bringing these kids to swim lessons. But no matter what age you are, it's never too late to learn how to be safe underwater.                  |   Watch Video Above for Extended Coverage   |

At just four years old, Maggie Clay is already learning how to swim. Her younger brother, Lucas is also taking lessons. Their mom says, she's learned the hard way why it's so important to be prepared.

"It's kinda scary. We were at a birthday party this weekend and there were a lot of people there, and we have three little ones and to watch them in the pool, we thought we had our eyes on them the whole time, and this little one ended up in the play pool."

The Pinedale Community Pool is one of 12 public pools run this summer by the Fresno Parks and Recreation Department. Two full weeks of swim lessons cost 30-dollars. And for some low income candidates, the lessons are free.

"Fortunately, we were granted this last year through the water safety council 300 scholarships so that students all over town can take part, get involved and get free swim lessons." "They're all made so if the child fell in the water. It gets their head out of the water."

Mary Jo Quintero is a drowning prevention council advocate at Children's Hospital Central California. They too offer free swim safety classes. The hospital has already reported six water-related drownings so far this year. Quintero says lifejackets are crucial, especially for younger kids. But when it comes to older swimmers, it's being aware of the dangers that lurk under the water's surface.

"The other thing that is a danger is on the rivers and the rapids the water is really fast and it may in some occasions look like its fast on top of the water, but sometimes it looks very quiet, like our canals, it looks very gentle and quiet but underneath it is really fast."

Children's Hospital says most drownings happen at home, either in a bathtub or backyard pool. But no matter where your kids are swimming, their best advice is to never take your eyes off them.

For information on free or low-cost swim lessons, call the Fresno Parks and Recreation Department at 621-PLAY.

For information on free water safety classes at Children's Hospital Central California, log onto http://www.childrenscentralcal.org and search for "Kohl's Water Safety"

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