(WSVN) - Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer, which means it’s almost time to break out the grills and soak up the sun. Many people will spend plenty of time by the water this summer, so it’s a good time to start addressing water safety with loved ones.
William Ramos, director of the Aquatics Institute and associate professor at the Indiana University School of Public Health-Bloomington, said children are at a higher risk of drowning and he has recommendations for parents as more young ones are eager to get into the water during the hot season.
“Every day in the United States, 11 people drown. And within that group, ages one to four, it’s actually the leading cause of death for children,” said Ramos.
He suggests that parents should enroll their children in swim lessons, as a good first line of defense to help prevent drowning accidents.
While not all drowning accidents result in death, survivors can be left with severe brain and nerve damage, which can result in permanent disabilities.
“Look for [lessons] that, one tries to get your child, or attempts to get the child to a level that we call water competency,” said Ramos. “That’s a point where we think people have enough skill to save themselves if they find themselves in trouble.”
The water expert also mentioned that it’s critical those lessons don’t just teach kids how to swim but also how to minimize their risks in the water.
“By the time somebody has to use their swimming skills to save themselves, there may have been a series of missteps involving water safety along the way,” said Ramos.
Even if you go somewhere with a lifeguard on duty, experts said parents should still be on high alert and constantly supervising.
Parents in Miami-Dade County looking to enroll children in swim classes can check this website for more information. Broward County residents can visit this website for locations offering swim classes. The YMCA and the American Red Cross offer swim lessons in South Florida.
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