Every day, an average of 10 people will die in the U.S. from unintentional drowning – with 20 percent of them children 14 or younger, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Drowning is also the second leading cause of injury death for children and sixth for people of all ages. The CDC also reports for every child who dies from drowning, another five receive emergency department care for nonfatal submersion injuries.
That’s why the Red Cross joined with the Zac Foundation to teach swimming safety to children on Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma.
“We do need to teach them about what’s safe and what’s not,” said Brady Cargil, a Red Cross water safety instructor. “We show them how to rescue those that need it. It’s something we should do as humans”.
Brady started the kids off in the classroom with pool safety rules. Rules like no running or jumping on others and the best kind of lifejacket to wear. Brady showed them pictures of drains they should stay away from as well as pools to avoid.
The most entertaining part of the class came when Brady showed them different items from a box and asked if they were good options to rescue people. These items included a frying pan, Viking helmet and a rescue ring. The kids were all correct in saying the rescue ring is a better option. The hope is the information will translate to real world situation were the kids may have to act.
“One little girl actually saved her brother when he went under a slide,” Brady remembers of a story once told to him by a former student. “She pulled him back out by staying as far away as possible without falling in.”
The kids then took their classroom skills to the pool where Red Cross trained lifeguards reminded them of pool safety before going for a nice cool swim. The younger children were given lifejackets to wear and as a reward were allowed to jump off the diving board.
“I’m glad we’re also to teach kids to be safe around the pool,” Brady said. “It’s something I believe is important for them and it will help save lives.”
The American Red Cross is celebrating 100 years of swimming safety education. As part of the celebration, the Red Cross started a national campaign to reduce the drowning rate by 50 percent. For more safety tips, visit redcross.org/watersafety. To find a swimming safety class near you, visit redcross.org/take-a-class. Also, download the Red Cross Swim app People can download the app for free in the Apple App Store, Google Play Store for Android or Amazon Kindle Store by searching for American Red Cross or by going to redcross.org/mobileapps. The Swim App is not a substitute for learning how to swim. Parents can contact their local pool, aquatic facility or park and recreation department and ask for Red Cross swim lessons.
Click here to see a video about the water safety training at Tinker Air Force Base.