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Swimming safety advocates urging parents to bring children for lessons following recent drownings

2 months 2 weeks 2 days ago Sunday, April 07 2024 Apr 7, 2024 April 07, 2024 10:06 PM April 07, 2024 in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE - Authorities in three parishes are investigating three recent drowning, or near-drowning, incidents involving toddlers.

On Wednesday, a three-year-old girl drowned in a pool in Addis, according to The Advocate. The second drowning happened Thursday evening in False River, claiming the life of another 3-year-old girl. Most recently, an 18-month-old nearly drowned in a pool in Walker, but survived after being brought to a hospital.

In light of these deaths, swimming-instructors are emphasizing the importance of water safety.

"It gives us a passion knowing that what we do here saves lives. Swimming really does save lives," said Dason Poche, an instructor at Fishy's in Gonzales.

Poche has taught swim lessons for four years. He says their main priority is not only teaching kids how to swim properly, but how to swim to safety.

"Parents should put their kids in lessons as soon as possible. Get them in an infant class and if you can't just get them in something. We are surrounded by water here. If you're not near a pool, you're near a river. Anywhere you go around South Louisiana, there's going to be water. Maybe it would fly up North, but down here, there's water everywhere," Poche said.

He says they teach children to grab onto something when they find themselves in water. If they're in a pool, grab onto the side. If in a lake or river, swim to the nearest dock.

The number one rule, according to Poche, is never leave swimmers un-attended.

"Be cautious. Water is dangerous. It can be fun to play in, but it's dangerous," he said.

Poche says if you live near water, having a fence could save a child's life. If swim lessons are out of your budget, introducing children to water yourself can also be effective.

"Swimming saves lives. If it's not here you're taking swim, take it somewhere. It's vital," he said.

Swim instructor Ashley Spencer says even a bathtub is unsafe without an adult present.

"They don't know this because of flotation devices. The way that we are teaching them, is that water is fine. It's like saying, 'Go play in the street,' and you give them a suit that will keep them from getting hurt by a car. But, we don't do that," Spencer said. "A child under six-years-old cannot get air independently for long in a vertical posture. Flotation devices cause this fatal posture and confuse children. Flotation devices are not to be used in pools, but only for open water."

Spencer says the younger the child starts learning to swim, the better.

"Start your child at six months old. The younger they are, the faster they learn," Spencer said. "Children must be taught how to rotate into a horizontal posture, in order to get enough air to survive, should they find themselves in the water alone. It only takes 24 days to be 100% safe in the water and for their survival skills to be long-term muscle memory."

For an in-depth look into water safety, what to do if someone is drowning or to find nearby swimming schools, click here.

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