With temperatures climbing in the Crossroads, many families will turn to the water to escape the heat and cool off this summer.
But along with having fun in the water comes the danger of drowning for swimmers and people near the water.
So far this year, 53 children have drowned in Texas, according to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, with half of the drownings occurring in community and backyard pools.
How good of a swimmer are you?
Jackie Drake, the regional communications officer for the Texas Gulf Coast region of the American Red Cross, said the American Red Cross offers several first-aid classes, including CPR, lifeguard and water safety, to prevent tragedies.
“You never know when you’re going to be in a situation where you have to save or rescue someone,” Drake said. “If you have small children or plan to be in or near water, it is so important to learn CPR because administering CPR is one of the most critical skills you can have to save someone.”
Linda Brown, a private swim instructor in Victoria, said adults are just as vulnerable as children in the water if the adult is not aware of swimming safety measures. A major component of learning how to swim is water safety, she said.
“The more comfortable you are in the water, the less panicked you’ll be if you’re in a situation,” she said.
Brown has been a swim instructor since 1983 and is the owner and head instructor at Swim Smart. As part of swimming safety, Brown said it is good for parents to make sure an adult constantly supervises children. A break from the water every 45 minutes can also help with muscle fatigue. By taking breaks, a parent or adult can assess whether the child is too tired to continue to safely swim.
Parents also should not assume that because their child has taken swimming lessons, they do not need constant supervision, she said. Even adults should be supervised by another adult while swimming, she added.
An indicator that someone is drowning is if the person is blowing bubbles on the water and their arms are flailing above the surface, with eyes wide, Brown said. Underneath the surface, the person’s legs may look like they are riding a bike.
“It may look like they’re playing, but they’re not,” Brown said. “The eyes will also say it all: If they’re big and wide, and they have all these other motions, that means they’re panicking and can’t catch their breath.”
For those with personal pools, Brown said it is important for parents to make sure there is a bolt lock on doors and that a baby can’t get to a pool through a dog door. When swimming at another house with a young child, it is also good to check to make sure the child won’t be able to sneak out as well.
“Be diligent when in or around water,” Brown said. “Swim lessons are not a guarantee for anyone, and anyone can be vulnerable if you don’t use common sense.”