WATER SAFETY: 6 tips to keep kids safe while swimming - KMSP-TV

WATER SAFETY: 6 tips to keep kids safe while swimming

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Many people will head up to lakeside cabins or community pools over the Fourth of July weekend, but escaping the summer heat with a quick dip can end in tragedy for parents of small children.

The numbers of drowning deaths serve as a harsh reminder of the importance of water safety. In 2011, 66 people drowned. Last year, 55 people drowned. So far, 13 have drowned in 2013.

Yet, even without a fatal drowning, a swimming accident can drastically change a life.

"At Gillette, we see a lot of tragic episodes that are happening to children," said Dr. Mark Gormley, who works in pediatric rehab. "The absolute worst is a near-drowning. It devastates your brain and you're changed for life."

Some may be surprised by how quickly and quietly a near-drowning can occur. There's usually not a lot of splashing or screaming to look out for, and even a good swimmer can go under if they get fatigued or panic.

Safety experts offered the following water safety tips for parents:

1. Teach kids to never go near water without an adult present.

2. Watch kids at all times.

3. Make sure children are swimming with a friend.

4. Know how deep the water is.

5. Don't rely on inflatables to replace a life jacket.

6. Keep kids close to shore or a pool's edge because they can be over-confident about how far they can swim.

"I always have my eye on them," said Marci Kaplan. "We have a rule that if you can't see me, you've gone too far."

In the end, Gormley said nothing can replace good swimming lessons and knowing CPR. Both save lives.

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