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Toddler falls in hot tub, survives because he knew how to hold his breath

Safety Around Water: Local mom shares how swim lessons saved her son

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Jacksonville mom wants parents and caregivers to know that swim safety lessons, even at a very young age, can save lives. 

Laura Carlson's son, Hudson, is alive today because he learned how to hold his breath, and did just that when he accidentally fell into the deep portion of a hot tub.

Hudson is almost 3 years old, but last spring, a family swim party could have ended tragically. 

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"I assumed that my mother-in-law, or my sister-in-law or my husband or someone else was watching the little ones in the hot tub," said Laura.

She said she had briefly left the party to put a bathing suit on her younger child. When she returned, she scanned the pool, which has an attached hot tub.

"(I) immediately ran over, and he was under the water in the hot tub in the deep part, and I just saw his eyes looking up at me, and I obviously grabbed him out immediately," Laura said.

Laura said she had taken Hudson to swim safety lessons, starting when he was 6 months old. When the toddler accidentally slipped off the hot tub steps, he was unable to free himself from a precarious position, but he knew how to hold his breath -- something he learned in swim lessons -- and it saved him.

Laura said she learned two things in that moment. First, she learned swim safety lessons are life-saving and wants all parents and caregivers to make sure their children know what to do if they ever find themselves in a water emergency.

"They could fall in a river, in a pond, in a pool. You just don't know what could happen," she warned.  "And if you have kids, you know that they're really quick, and sometimes you turn your eyes for two seconds and they're who knows where?"

The second thing Laura learned when she found Hudson in that hot tub: Don't ever assume someone else is watching.

"Whenever there are a lot of adults around, you think that somebody else is watching the kids," she said.

Now, Laura and her husband make sure the other knows who specifically is on "kid watch."

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"I specifically ask a person, 'Are you watching the little ones?' before I leave, and not just say, 'Are you guys watching them?' I make sure I talk to a specific person; put them in charge of watching the kids," she explained.

Safety Around Water

Channel 4 The Local Station has teamed up with the First Coast YMCA for a Positively Jax campaign to make sure kids in our community are safe around water.  All summer long, your children can be tested for free by the Y's swim experts. If they pass the skills test, they get to ring a special bell to symbolize their life-saving achievement. If they need extra help, there are programs available and free lessons for those who qualify.

Free Swim Weekend: June 22-June 24

To start this summer-long effort, you and your family can take part in a Free Swim Weekend at participating YMCA locations Friday through Sunday. Get your child's skill level tested for free and then spend the day enjoying the pool  Click here to find a participating Y location near you, along with pool hours.

Channel 4 Kickoff this Saturday

This Saturday, June 23, join News4Jax anchor Joy Purdy starting at 9 a.m. at the Williams YMCA on San Jose Boulevard. She will be there live for a kickoff of the Safety Around Water campaign. You'll be able to get your child's swim skills tested for free, and then at no charge, you can stay for the day and relax at the pool. 


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