Experts Say No Excuse for Child Drownings This Summer

With summer almost here and school letting out, more families will be looking for ways to cool off. Unfortunately some family outings end in tragedy as 70 or more children drown in Texas each year. The YMCA and the Houston Fire Department want to prevent these tragedies and are reaching out to parents.

These children are listening to a swim instructor explain how to get out of a pool. This summer, thousands of children will take part in the YMCA's "Water Wise" program, but statistics show there will still be a drowning approximately every other day in Harris County. YMCA of Greater Houston CEO Clark Baker says child drownings should never happen.

"I think, preventable. I think of hurtful parents. I think of a lost loved one, and I think of a child that could've been saved is they'd known how to swim."

The YMCA and local agencies are giving their annual warning to parents to be careful around water and get your children into swim lessons. Life guards staged a mock drowning to show what happens when a parent takes their eyes off a child for just a few minutes.

Houston mother Renee Jones Mata has three children, and even though they spent time in the water, she says they didn't know how to swim until they took the YMCA class just last year.

"I did live in an apartment for many years. And when I would take my children to the pool, I would always be really nervous, really scared, because my children didn't know how to swim. But now if they fall in the water, they know the basics."

The experts say, in the majority of drowning cases involving children, one or both parents were watching the child. But losing sight of them for just a few minutes often proves to be a fatal mistake. Gwen Carter of CPS and Al Bennett of the Houston Fire Department have a message for parents.

Carter: "Watch kids around water. These are not statistics that are only numbers. These are children, these are grandchildren, these are nieces and nephews, and it's up to all of us to watch kids around water."

Bennett: "A drowning can occur in a tub, in a bucket and even in a ditch."

In the YMCA program, children learn not only how to swim but how to save another person who doesn't.

"All right you saved me, awesome job."

Christine Meyerson designed the Water Wise program and explains why.

"There are a lot of situations where a four-year-old might be watching a little two-year-old brother while mom runs in to get a towel or something like that, but there are lots of cases where children have helped a younger sibling with skills they've learned in a class that taught them how to be safe but not to get in the water themselves to help."

With school out and the weather heating up, families will be looking for ways to have fun and cool off. Local agencies just want to make sure the fun doesn't turn to tragedy.