Tips from an expert on learning to swim and pool safety for summer | 7 On Your Side

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CLOSTER, New Jersey (WABC) — Sadly, we cover backyard pool tragedies all the time. As a reminder, you are required to have a fence around your pool for safety.

There are all sorts of door locks and warning alarm products to alert you if someone falls into your pool, but the most important way to prevent accidental drowning is to learn to swim.

Drowning is a leading cause of death for children under 4 years old, and that number has been on the rise, ABC’s Dr. Darien Sutton shared.

7 On Your Side went to a local swim school where kids are learning life-saving techniques.

Renee Racciatti, regional manager, of Goldfish Swim School said the most important thing kids are learning is to hold their breath underwater.

“Kids need to understand and learn how to hold their breath underwater. For 20 seconds, kids can drown in as little as 20 seconds. So you can have cool alarms and all these other tools and gadgets, which are very important. But you have to be able to, you know, save yourself at the end of the day because unless you’re getting to your kid in under 20 seconds, it might be too late. And that’s really scary,” Racciatti said. “So we have to teach them, that when water hits your face, you need to close your mouth.”

She said that’s an important survival skill that doesn’t come as second nature to kids.

“Children don’t understand how to close their mouth as soon as they hit the water, which is not instinctual. You know, they can follow up with water and as little as 20 seconds. So teaching them to close their mouth as soon as they hit water allows them to maintain composure, and come up with an exit strategy,” she said.

One of the other important safety skills that we teach is teaching kids how to float and roll onto their backs to breathe.

“So we teach them chin up, tummy up. And that does require kids to put their heads back and get their ears wet. That can be very uncomfortable for kids. So you can just take a simple mirror, and hold it in front of their face so that they’d have a distraction. They’re looking at themselves smiling, even though they’re getting their ears wet in their heads back,” Racciatti said.

They also learn how to get to the side wall of the pool if they fall in.

“Oh my God, it makes me feel 100% safer, like knowing that I can have confidence that when I leave her there I know that if she gets in the water she’ll be able to at least hold on till somebody would notices that she said that she’s out there,” the mom of a swim student said.

Also, if you are a pool owner, make sure that you always have life vests available for any kids who don’t know how to swim.

“First and foremost, it really has to be a very snug fit. And one of the things that you want to make sure of is the two-finger test so you put two fingers under here. This part of the best should not come above the end of the ear lobes. So, this part of the vest should not come above the ear lobes. It needs to be a very snug fit. And then you put two fingers under. You do a little tug. And as long as it doesn’t come above the ear lobes. That means it’s the right fit and it’s safe,” Racciatti said.

You also want to check to see that it says US Coast Guard approved and that the weight is an appropriate amount for the person wearing it.

“So this is a water Guardian lanyard. We really hope that this summer and we have our Safer Swimmer pledge going on right now if you have a pool party, if you have kids by the pool, adults by the pool, someone needs to be designated as a water guardian or Water Watcher. They have to stand by the pool and do nothing else with no distractions other than standing and watching over the pool and making sure that the swimmers are safe,” Racciatti said.

“It’s very important to me, for my kids to know how to swim. It’s kind of like, just makes me feel better during the summer and our family has pools and they’re always wanting to swim. So, it’s very important,” a mother said.

Now thanks to Goldfish, their 2-4-year-old students are ready for a safe summer.

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