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June 16, 2017 06:21 PM

Tips For Drowning Prevention

Pools, lakes and rivers are a hot spot for many families this time of year. That's why it is crucial parents remain alert when heading to the water, so a fun day doesn't turn into a devastating one. 

Whether she's teaching a kid how to swim or working as a lifeguard, swim instructor Grace Reeves keeps a watchful eye on the pool at the Sanford Wellness Center. 

"Helping kids gain confidence in the water," Reeves said. 

She knows what to look for to make sure kids aren't at risk of drowning.

"A lot of times you'll see them suffering or kind of panicking and just kind of flailing around and making a lot of splashing," Reeves said. 

However, sometimes the signs aren't so telling.

"Sometimes the fear will set in and they'll actually kind of lock up and they'll get stiff so they won't be flailing their arms and they'll sink a lot faster so just depending on the age. It's not going to happen all the time," Sioux Falls Fire Inspector Tyler Tjeerdsma said. 

If a child is struggling in the water, lifeguards and rescuers have to move swiftly to make the save. 

"If a kid maybe jumps into a place where he thought he could touch, but realizes he can't swim, it can take under 30 seconds to be at the bottom and then it's a minute and a half before it's water suffocation," Reeves said. 

That's why it's important for an adult to be present, keeping an eye on young swimmers, whether they're in the community pool or an area lake. 

"Parents, just have somebody designated to watch your kids. If you're at a family event where you have a lot of people around such as a lake, make one adult designated to watch over the kids at all times," Tjeerdsma said. 

Luckily, Reeves is available to be a watchful eye as kids learn a valuable skill. 

"It builds confidence. You see it in their water skills and you see it outside the pool as well and it's cool to see," Reeves said. 

Reeves recommends always using a life jacket if you're going to be swimming in a lake.

Additionally, Sioux Falls Fire Rescue says you should be using approved life jackets instead of pool toys or floaties. 


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