Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Parent to Parent: Infant Swimming
Parents, it's a frightening statistic, but drowning is the number one cause of death for children under the age of five in Florida. One program teaches babies how to survive in the water. Details in today's Parent to Parent.
WSVN -- A few weeks ago 2-year-old Jaylen Whipple disappeared from his Homestead home. His body was later found floating in a nearby retention pond. Could tragedies like this be prevented?
Dr. Harvey Barnett: "A comprehensive drowning prevention strategy for infants and young children is sorely needed in the United States."
Dr. Harvey Barnett founded the Infant Swimming Resource.
Dr. Harvey Barnett: "Literally, the distance that children drown from safety is three inches, and that's the distance from face-down in the water to face-up."
Instructor Kate Eckert shows us how it works with 10-month-old Camilo Villalba.
Kate Eckert: "So a 6-month-old to a 12-month-old, an infant who is not yet walking, is going to learn how to hold their breath, turn from face-down to face-up into a floating position where they can breath and relax until help can get to them."
It's called sensory motor learning. Essentially, through repeat training, babies learn what to do if they fall in the water.
Kate Eckert: "What you want to do is get them in a structured environment where they learn water on the face means close your mouth and open your eyes."
And it works: One little boy fell in the water but rolled over and floated until he was found.
Toddlers also get lessons. Two-year-old Kaylee and Andres go one past floating and learn to swim to safety.
Kate Eckert: "So they're going to be able to swim head-down in the water, holding their breaths, and when they need to rotate onto their backs where they can float and breathe rest for a couple seconds and the flip back over and continue swimming and combine those swimming and floating skills until they get to safety."
But this isn't your usual swimming lesson. It takes commitment. Kids have to attend 10 minutes a day, five days a week for about six weeks. Parents are not allowed in the pool during a session, but it's important for them to be there.
Camilo's mom Maria admits at times it seemed a bit scary but thinks every parent should do it.
Maria: "It will also give you some peace of mind because we can't get away from water, it's everywhere where we live, so you just never know."
Andres' parents know firsthand how critical these skills are. They almost lost a nephew to drowning.
Andres' dad: "It was actually at a party, there are 10 or 15 adults around, there are 15 or 20 kids, and then somebody all of a sudden turns around and looks, and he's floating about 6 inches under the water."
Luckily, he was rescued in time. That's why the program stresses supervision as the first line of defense, as well as a sturdy pool fence with an alarm.
Lynn Martinez: "The registration fee is $105 and then fees vary depending on where you take lessons."
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Infant Swimming Resource