At 17 months old, Erin Kent’s son was proving to be almost too smart for his own good.
One day while living in Tucson, the now Ahwatukee Foothills resident and her husband were doing some yard work in their backyard when they looked over to see their son climbing the fence that surrounded their pool.
She had thoughts that even though it was a good precaution, a pool fence might not be the end-all to her child’s safety.
That day proved it.
After looking around for classes, she landed upon Infant Swim Resource, a class that teaches toddlers how to survive if they fall into a body of water. For Arizona families with pools, a skill like that is invaluable and could be life saving.
“My thought that day was ‘he knows how to conquer the fence, what am I going to do now?’” she said. “The places I went to for classes told me they could not guarantee that he could swim before he was 4. That wasn’t what I was looking for.”
The day her son tried to climb that fence was seven years ago. Now Kent, whose son finished the class in about seven weeks, is an instructor for ISR and works out of her home in Ahwatukee Foothills.
Age and skill set determine what techniques children are taught. They start by floating and move up to a modified version of the freestyle stroke and when they reach the point that they can convert verbal commands into body movement, they move on to more complicated strokes.
Drowning is a serious issue in Arizona. There are stories full of tragedy every summer of children who leave their parents sight for only a moment before finding their way to the pool.
The city of Phoenix Fire Department has recorded 33 instances of drowning including three fatalities so far in 2012. In 2011, there were 86 instances with 22 being fatal. Of the 33 this year, 23 have happened to a child between the ages of 0 and 5.
Every parent should brush up on how to keep their children safe over the summer, and places like Phoenix Children’s Hospital offers a list of tips.
These include maintaining supervision at all times, having a 5-foot-tall barrier with a self-closing and self-latching entrance, locking doors (including dog doors) and windows, at social gathers, have a designated person be the “Water Watcher,” and learn CPR.
The last one is a skill that can be learned in just a couple days worth of classes, and could very well save a life. Classes for family first aid and CPR can be found on the Red Cross Grand Canyon Chapter’s website, www.arizonaredcross.org.
Kent said a responsibility of a parent is being realistic.
“What is startling to me is that I read a survey that 35 percent of all parents do not believe their child will not be a part of an aquatic accident,” she said. “These are not parents that are not educated or not caring. Kids are just smart and they figure things out.”
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