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Children may be taught how to 'save' themselves from drowning
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Unfortunately, there are far too many examples of young children drowning in local pools, lakes and other areas of water. When an infant or young child drowns, not only is it one of the saddest events the families and friends of the victims must deal with, it is a tragedy for the entire community. Perhaps what makes these situations even more troubling is the fact that many times, these drowning incidents could have been prevented since infants and young children can be taught to save themselves from drowning when they accidentally end up in the water. Keep in mind that the water need not be but just a few inches deep for a baby or child to drown.

It comes as a surprise to many that babies as young as six months old can be taught to "save" themselves by staying calm, floating, or even swimming when they fall into the water. I have always believed that knowing how to swim should be one of life's basic tools that everyone should be taught at an early age; some 5,000 kids drown (and die) each year in the United States. There are countless more non-fatal drowning events that do not receive the same amount of publicity. While these kids manage to survive, they often suffer from long-term brain damage affecting their speech, mental capacity and motor coordination owing to the effects of their brains having been deprived of oxygen for too long. It only takes a few minutes for brain damage to start occurring and soon after, the victim dies. Of all the drownings nationwide, approximately 20 percent of victims suffer from permanent neurological disabilities. This, of course, is devastating to the families and child, and also creates a significant financial burden for all involved.

Here in the Valley, not only are there many waterways, canals and rivers traversing our communities, but there are many lakes in our area as well. And because our summers are very hot, backyard swimming pools are in abundance. For this reason, it is prudent that our kids know how to self-rescue and swim.

Generalized swim lessons are available through local city recreation programs, local gyms, and some private companies. Teaching the very young, like those in the six months to three years-old range, requires more time and specially-trained instructors. In my view, the time, and even the financial investment, is more than justified given the added insurance the child derives from having been trained to survive a fall into the water.

To obtain information about self-rescue and swim lessons for kids in the very young age range, you can check out Central Valley Swim,, where the Infant Swimming Resource (ISR) technique is used to teach self-rescue skills to children in this age group. There may be more infant swimming lesson providers, but I do not know of any others that teach ISR in this region.

I have written about this subject on several occasions during the past decade. While it may seem like an obvious subject for an emergency services provider, my concern is partially fueled by having dealt with these heartbreaking events at lakes while off duty, where I have assisted in the search for, and recovery of, the lifeless bodies of children who have drowned. Every one of these deaths haunts me to this day. Making sure the children in the community are safe and sparing the sadness of the families and the pain that lasts a lifetime is what I hope we can accomplish through awareness, prevention, and self-rescue and swimming lessons.