Tips to keep children safe around water

The summer heat is driving crowds to lakes, creeks and pools in the Austin area, but there are dangers that parents need to be aware of when taking children swimming.

More than 50 children in the Lone Star State have drowned this year alone, most of them in backyard or apartment complex pools.
The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services shared some ideas on how parents can protect their children so that that number does not rise.

“You should be a lifeguard for your children and your children’s friends,” said Julie Moody with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. 

Pools in the Austin area are staffed with lifeguards at all times, but even though the professionals are there for emergencies, Moody said parents should be the first line of defense.

“Lots of adults may be around the pool or on the beach at the lake, but who's actually watching the kids? And typically everyone thinks somebody else is, when in reality no one is watching the kids. So the most important message we have is to watch kids around water,” Moody said. 

“I think parents are at the frontline. I think the lifeguards are there for a backup. I know it's their job and they've been trained, but I think most importantly it's the parents’ responsibility to always keep an eye on their children,” said Sonia Cazares who was at the pool with her child Sunday. 

In an age when people carry cellphones almost everywhere they go it's easy to get distracted, but just a quick glance at a phone can mean the difference between life and death.

“The first thing I try to do always is to refrain from using my phone. I think it's very important to keep both eyes not only on your child, but in this case our neighbors children. I think that's critical in keeping your children safe at all times,” Cazares said.

“A lot of times people think drowning is when there's flailing arms and screaming, you know, help me, help me. Actually, drowning is silent and a lot of first responders say that parents and caregivers say, ‘I just walked into the house and was back out within a minute or two,’ and really it only takes seconds,” said Moody.

Cazares said one thing she did to keep her children out of harm’s way was to sign them up for swimming lessons.

“I think mainly because it takes away the fear of just being in the water. I think children don't know exactly what the risks are,” Cazares said. 

Moody said another suggestion is talk to your children's friend’s parents to find out if they have a pool and what precautions they take to keep kids safe near the water.