Water Safety Tips That Could Prevent Drowning

It's only a few days into the official start of summer, and there's already been two drownings in the Mid-Michigan area.

Water safety experts say drowning is the second leading cause of death in children under 14 years old, and these tragedies can be prevented.

Part of the problem is parents don't recognize the first signs of drowning. As one mother told us, it only takes a small amount of water to have a big scare.

"It was a kiddie pool, just a small one," Joy Clark said while watching her kids at the Williamston Community Pool. "He was a little guy when it happened."

Clark's son, Luke, had a close call when he was five in the backyard. Fortunately, she was able to pull him out right away, and then she put him in swim lessons immediately.

"Kids are one of the most precious things to me," Clark said. "So, to me, swimming lessons are a life skill. It's not something that's just, take your kids to the pool so they have fun, but that they learn that life skill."

The director of the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project, Bob Pratt, says not enough parents understand that, and it's putting their kind in danger when they visit the pool or lake.

"They'll sit on the beach, and maybe read the paper, check their Facebook page," Pratt said. "They think that, well, when their child gets into trouble, they'll call out to them or wave to them, when really they cannot."

Pratt said drowning in real life doesn't look a scene in a movie. There's no shouting or waving their arms; it's quick and almost silent.

"They're vertical in the water. Mouth right at the water level, and a look of panic on their face," Pratt said.

That panic can mean the difference between life and death. Pratt said most people know to "stop, drop and roll" if there's a fire, and they should also learn to "float, flip and follow."

"The first thing they should do is flip over onto their back, which raises their head out of the water, and hopefully controls them with the panic," Pratt said. "If they can control that panic, float to see where safety might be."

It goes for people of all ages in any kind of water. Even if there's a lifeguard on duty, an extra set of eyes is never a bad thing.

"You really have to watch your kids close, I mean it's dangerous," Clark said.

Men make up 80 percent of drowning cases, across all ages groups. Pratt said they tend to overestimate their abilities in the water.

To keep people from becoming distracted, The Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project offers a "water watcher" card to keep a designated set of eyes on the water at all times.

You can find out more here: http://glsrp.org/

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