The worst case scenario of a hot day in summer is to go to a pool or lake and not know how to swim. Linda Carrillo, 12, says, “When I was 4, my mom took me to the local YMCA so that I could learn to swim. Since then, I try to go with friends who also know how to swim. Everyone needs to learn to swim.”
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC), about one in five children die who are under the age of fourteen, but what is more alarming is that the statistics for minorities drowning is higher than other ethnicities.
This could be due to a number of factors so taking precaution before heading swimming is needed. Yvette Sanchez, 13, and her younger sister Lorena, 5, attend the local swimming pool most days of the week, alone. This means that they head to the pool without a parent to watch over them.
Lorena says, “My big sister watches me. Plus I have these floaties on my arms.”
Despite this, Sanchez admits that she herself has not learned to swim. She says, “I can dog paddle, but not swim. I should learn. That is why I come here, to the pool. To learn and teach myself and my sister one day at a time.”
According to CDC, public pools have the highest numbers of drownings due to lack of supervision by adults or lifeguards. Rosita, 19, a lifeguard at Imperial Valley pool says, “There are three of us on duty. I sit here [on a bench] and Mark and Jesse patrol the pool.”
Sanchez says, “I think the lifeguards are cool. I wish they would get in the water or watch us from those high seats, but they are there, always watching so I am not too scared.”
Despite this, many children and parents who head to the local pool to relax, often forget that lack of barriers, wearing lifejackets and lack of swimming lessons results exists in case of an emergency.
Jackie, 15, a weekend regular at this pool says, “It gets pretty packed on the weekends here. I sometimes have to stop my swimming and make sure my little sisters still have their floaties on and are close by me. There are six or seven families in one area. The lifeguards are as old as I am. How are all three of them going to make sure these seven families are safe without really trying to be a part of the solution?”
Jackie adds, “That is why when we hear a whistle or hear the lifeguard yelling, we know we have to stop. Learning to swim has also made me and my little sisters feel safer. They are fast swimmers too!”
Research has shown that swimming lessons do help. Take lessons before going to a pool alone. Learn CPR and wear life jackets or use goggles and sunblock to prevent accidents from occurring. Have a safe time at your local pool, but remember with caution.