Can Your Kid Swim to Survive?

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by SHANIQUA MANNING / NWCN & KGW.com

NWCN.com

Posted on May 29, 2013 at 9:52 AM

  It's almost summer.  Many of us will be flocking to the water before you know it!  Whether your kids are beginning swimmers, or they're already in the deep end, it's a good time to make sure they  have some basic water safety and survival skills. 

   Drowning is the number-one cause of accidental deaths in kids.  Nearly 400 children drown in the U.S. each year.  "Just a split second that you’re not watching an accident can happen,” said Kelly Rinalli, a mother of two.

When accidents happen, the timing is critical.  "(For) a smaller child going under the water, it usually takes about five seconds of panic before that and you find out if they know what to do or not,” said Tiffany Tomlin with Children of the Sea in Tigard.

Kids enrolled in Children of the Sea water safety classes are taught three options.

"One of the things they really stress is: If you fall into the water you turn so always go back to the wall. And they practice that over and over," said Rinalli.

Kids are also reminded to look for an adult to grab, and most importantly, to turn on their back and float.

"We teach them to do a starfish float on their backs leaving their airway open so that they can yell for help," said Tomlin.

At Swimbabes, in Milwaukie, Oregon, the turn and float is the cornerstone of water survival class.

"Surprisingly my favorite age to start is between 12 and 16 weeks old. By the time they're 7 or 8 months old we transition to survival," said director Kelley Robinson.

To pass the program the young students have to turn and float five minutes in wet clothing.

"If they make it the first five minutes without getting too upset or taking themselves under. We think they can pretty much go past five minutes indefinitely," said Robinson.

At both Swimbabes and Children of the Sea, the water is 90 degrees, which is a comfortable place to practice what could someday save a life.

"It does give me peace of mind that I know that they have the skills to maybe know what to do," said Rinalli.

Tune in to Northwest Families Wednesday mornings during the 10 a.m show and Thursday mornings during the 8 a.m. show on NWCN. You can also check us out on Facebook .

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