20 seconds, less than 2 inches of water: How to protect your kids from drowning

The recent case of a child who nearly drowned in a pool before being saved by his neighbor is a sharp reminder to brush up on swimming safety. News4JAX reporter Brianna Andrews spoke with a local swim coach about how parents can prevent accidents like this.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla – Three minutes and 22 seconds -- that’s how long a 4-year-old boy had been underwater at an apartment complex pool in Kansas before a neighbor rushed over to save him.

Thankfully, the child, who has autism, is OK, but the video is an eye-opening reminder to brush up on swimming safety.

A child can drown in just 20 seconds in less than 2 inches of water.

Jacksonville swim instructor Sally Ellis, affectionately known as “Coach Sally” to students, said her No. 1 rule is that children should never go into the water without adult supervision.

“I’ve been teaching for 28 years, and I believe in teaching children to swim. But I also am a huge proponent of barriers for protection. And if you notice I say barriers -- it’s not just one,” said Ellis, who owns Coach Sally Swim and Learn.

Recommended barriers are fences, pool alarms, window alarms, door alarms and removing pool ladders. People can also purchase alarms just in case a child sneaks into the water.

Ellis holds classes at her home where she teaches small children more than how to do a breaststroke but also how to survive in the water -- rain or shine.

“The skill I use for younger children is pushing off the bottom of the pool so that they can come up for air. And just teaching them how to float on their back,” Ellis said.

Two-thirds of fatal drownings occur each year between May and August according to Safe Kids. Now that summer break is here and city pools are open, it’s important for parents to teach kids safe swimming habits.

If a child witnesses another kid drowning, Ellis said it’s important they find an adult immediately, just like in the video.

She said a child should never try to jump in and save another child, because it could possibly lead to both kids drowning.

About the Author:

This native of the Big Apple joined the News4Jax team in July 2021.