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‘The safety of the kid is vital’: Tips for keeping your kids safe in the pool this summer

Michael Birmingham, a YMCA lifeguard in Shreveport, keeps close watch over an indoor pool.
Michael Birmingham, a YMCA lifeguard in Shreveport, keeps close watch over an indoor pool.(None)
Published: Jul. 16, 2021 at 5:54 AM CDT
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SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) - As the summer heats spikes across the ArkLaTex this summer, families are flocking to pools and beaches to beat the heat. But before the kids dive in, making sure they know how to respond in an emergency situation could be life-saving.

KSLA caught up with Michael Birmingham, a head lifeguard at the YMCA in Shreveport, to discuss crucial tips parents and kids can pocket.

“If you get your kid in the water as early as possible, they’ll get accustomed to it, they’ll enjoy it, and it prevents drowning,” Birmingham said.

In fact, the YMCA offers swim lessons for infants as young as 6-months-old, so there are opportunities to expose children to water at an early age. Kids and teens are also able to take advantage of different swim programs too.

“Start them really young,” added Birmingham. “There are programs out there that benefit the kid at a young age.”

According to the CDC, more children between the ages of 1 to 4 die from drowning than any other cause, except birth defects. Additionally, for kids between 1 and 14, drowning is the second leading cause of death behind car crashes.

“A drowning happens very quickly,” said Birmingham. “In two to three minutes, they can lose all brain function and die.”

Birmingham demonstrated a technique that children who aren’t accustomed to the pool can practice to stay safe. He says to have the child float on their back with their head up, making an angle motion with their arms while kicking in opposite directions.

“If any kid can float on their back, they’re gold,” added Birmingham. “A parent or a lifeguard will see that they’re too young, or they’re not supposed to be in the water and can’t swim, they just pick them out of the water, and no harm is done to the child.”

To prevent tragic accidents, parents can also purchase PFDs (personal flotation devices) to help keep kids above the water. A list of some of the best PFDs can be found here.

Birmingham emphasizes parents play a key role in making sure their children are safe near any sort of water.

“We’re all human, we all make mistakes, even lifeguards,” he said. “It is very important the parents watch as well.”

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