'Cannonball'? Not so fast: Expert urges parents to condition kids for pool safety

YMCA aquatics director provides helpful tips

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Keeping children safe around the water starts with the kids thinking twice before ever jumping in, the YMCA’s aquatics director said Monday.

Conditioning the children to ask for permission first is just part of the equation when it comes to water safety, said Cindy Partee, of the First Coast YMCA.

“As fun as it is to let them run and jump in on a hot summer day, we try to teach them that they should always stop and ask mom or dad or an adult if it's OK to go in,” Partee told News4Jax.

Two children were involved in water-related emergencies in local pools over the past week. In both cases, it appears the kids may not have been familiar with swimming pools at home.

First, a 2-year-old drowned on Saturday after falling into a pool in the city’s Greenland neighborhood, near Mandarin High School. Neighbors said the family had just moved into the home about a week ago.

Another 2-year-old remains in critical condition at a Florida hospital after he was pulled from a swimming pool last week at a vacation rental near Crescent Beach. The family was visiting from Ohio.

But there are many ways to protect your children while they’re in the water, Partee said. Survival lessons can begin as early as 6 months.

And if your child just can't seem to resist the water, Partee pointed out that there are tools you can buy that alert you if your child wanders into the water.

“There are a couple different safety devices on the market,” Partee said. “There are a few that, actually, an alarm will go off if (the child touches) the water. So, you can clip it on their shirt or you can do it as wristband, and the moment they hit that water and it gets wet, an alarm goes off in your house.”

Partee also reminded parents and caregivers of the No. 1 safety rule: Never let children go on their own to the pool.

She also strongly suggested that all adults learn CPR in case of a water emergency. The YMCA offers classes through Baptist Health, Partee said.

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