I have always lived near water. From San Francisco to Maui, Seattle, Los Angeles and San Diego…the water has been my constant companion. I grew up with a deep respect for its power after a near-drowning incident at age 4. That should have been enough to get us all to keep an eye on the pool. It wasn't. My sister almost drowned five years later at age 3. My friend Rachel shared her story with me the other day as a gentle reminder and it brought all of those feelings back up. The helplessness and fear.
With so many terrifying accounts out there, it seems almost inevitable that children will have an experience like this. I've put a fence up around our pool at home. The temptation is to keep it perpetually locked. My boys are their mother's sons, though. They love the water. Their childhood memories are going to be made up of swimming and splashing.
The important thing to keep in mind is that there ARE things to be done to ensure safety. Prevention is possible.
My best friend in high school was a water polo pro, and she taught pool safety to children when we were out of school. She'd work from dawn until dusk with families throughout the neighborhood, every single day for three months straight.
“It's worth giving up my summer,” she explained. “This saves lives.”
I think of her often nowadays as we splash around in our backyard, at hotel pools, and at the beach.
With kids of my own, I understand how worth it our actions are. Their joyful laughs are priceless as they raise up their hands and cause a torrent of droplets to fall around us, shimmering in the sunlight.
We’ve been working with 1in100million.com and watching their unique #WorkforceStories. Through their YouTube videos, I’ve been showing my boys a behind-the-scenes look at careers of workers they encounter in their everyday lives.
The latest profile featured is Justina Pratt: Safe Start Swimming Instructor at the YMCA in Lake Nona, Florida. The only program of its kind in the country, her lessons teach water survival to infants and young children from 6 months to 6 years old. It takes an 8-week training process in which they learn medical information and skills to help interact with children and families in this environment. Just like many families who make a commitment to safety, Justina survived a near drowning as a child and later watched her 3-year-old save himself after falling off of a dock. Because of her experience and her efforts, her own son is alive today.
That's a grave message, but one that the 1in100million YouTube channel thankfully makes relatable. If you're trying to teach your kids water safety, consider watching this video before introducing them to a water safety instructor.
Have your children learned water safety yet?