Friday letters: Teach all kids water safety

November 8, 2013 

— I commend Richland District 1 and the Drew Wellness Center for their partnership in providing children swimming. However, as the Oct. 25 article (“Swimming to Milestone”) pointed out, drowning is the leading cause of death for children ages 4 and younger. What do parents do until then?

Drowning happens in an instant, and small children displace such a small amount of water when they fall in that it’s easy not to notice. If a child has learned to swim in flotation devices, what happens when you remove them? He sinks. If a child falls in fully clothed, as they do when most accidents occur, can he navigate the water with the additional weight? Aquatic-survival students can.

By learning self-rescue skills, a child learns to float, thinks critically and swims to the side to safety.

Some swimming lessons are better than none, and Richland 1 had the foresight to ensure minority students had access to them. When choosing lessons, however, get your money’s worth. Make sure your child is getting a certified instructor’s undivided attention, not just five minutes during a 30-minute lesson with six students.

Shannon O’Lear

Columbia

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