Child drowning prevention

Child drowning prevention

A two-year-old boy's death is ruled an accidental drowning. Every year, law enforcement and paramedics respond to child drowning accidents in Kern County.
OILDALE, CA - As the temperature rises, people look for relief in swimming pools. But, this week Kern County had its first child drowning death this year.

Two-year-old Dutch William Shirley died Monday in his backyard swimming pool on El Tejon Avenue. Deputies said there was a miscommunication between his two guardians over who was watching Shirley. His death was ruled an accident.

Every year, paramedics respond to child drowning accidents in even very shallow water. Effective supervision is still the best way to prevent your child from drowning, but there are additional layers of protection you can add to your family life.

Infant swim instructor, Annie Jones, says humans are not born with swimming skills, and when children fall into water they instinctively wait to be rescued.

"They're going to go straight down," said Jones. "Swimming for children doesn't come easy."

Jones teaches children as young as six months old, water survival skills.

"We teach them to hold their breath, to roll to their back, to rest and to breathe, and to stay there in the hopes that it will give whoever is supervising, a few extra seconds to find them and rescue them out of the water."

Molly Alvarez wants to enroll her two children into swim lessons. They live just two houses down from where this week's drowning accident occurred.

"It definitely could have been preventable," said Alvarez. "With my kids, even giving them a bath, I don't ever leave them alone. Even if I need to go get a towel or the phone rings, I don't leave them."

Her kids have a kiddie pool, but she doesn't keep it filled up.

"We fill it up, let the kids play with it, and then we dump it," said Alvarez.

National drowning statistics from InfantSwim.com show children ages one to four, have the highest drowning rate, and drowning is the number one cause of death among children one to four, not including birth defects.

And, infant swim classes can only provide some help.

"He hits his head and knocks himself out or falls face first, gets water in his mouth and starts choking," said Alvarez. 

"These skills are just a layer of protection," said Jones. "There's no guarantee and there's no drown proofing."

A child can drown in just a few inches of water and in less than twenty seconds.

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