Jack Rautenstrauch and Tyler Barker, 9, say they are eager for school to end for the summer.
Both Greenbrier Elementary School third-graders have pools in their backyards and both said they plan to spend the summer swimming.
With the end of school only two days away, Jack and Tyler won't be the only children darting straight for the water, which is why Rene Hopkins, the coordinator of Safe Kids of East Central Georgia, spent an entire day promoting water safety to each grade level at Greenbrier Elementary on May 10.
Hopkins told the pupils that drowning is usually quiet and quick and not a theatrical and graphic display as seen on television and in movies. Drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury-related deaths in children under the age of 14, and more than half of all drownings occur in home pools, according to Safe Kids.
Hopkins said less than a third of parents consider drowning a significant risk to their children. More than half of drownings among children up to age 4 are pool-related, and about 300 children younger than 4 drowned in swimming pools nationwide in 2003, according to Safe Kids.
"I can't say enough about supervision. Supervision is key," Hopkins said, adding that parents should inform children to always have a "water watcher" when swimming. "A water watcher is a grown-up with no other job than to watch you in the water."
Jack and Tyler said having a ''water watcher'' is one of several rules already strictly enforced at their home pools.
"I have to put on sunscreen and wait for both my parents to get out there (before I can swim)," Jack said.
Hopkins gave children several tips for staying safe around the water this summer.
"You never, ever, ever swim alone. Even the best of swimmers get tired after a long day," Hopkins said, while Jack and Tyler raised their tightly clasped hands as part of an exercise promoting swimming with the "buddy system."
The pupils, from kindergarten through fifth grade, learned the difference between a swim aid, which is used just for fun, and a personal flotation device, which can help save the life of someone having trouble in the water.
"If it blows up, it's a toy," Hopkins said.
She taught children not only how to save themselves but also how to help a drowning buddy by not getting in the water, but throwing a personal flotation device to the drowning person.
Objects in a private or community pool such as ladders and drains also can pose a drowning danger to children, Hopkins said. A child playing near a pool drain can be held under water by having their body, hair or swimsuit caught in the suction. Hopkins recommends changing the drain covers with ones that don't form a suction or automatically shut off if someone is stuck to it.
Hopkins also said children should avoid swimming behind or close to ladders because a swimsuit can get caught and hold a child under the water.
"There are better choices to make in the pool," Hopkins told the group of third-graders.
Pools are not the only water danger in Columbia County.
"Here in our community, we have another major thing to pay attention to - the lake," Hopkins said of Clarks Hill Lake, which has 12 miles of shoreline. "It is part of a river, a moving body of water. It has a current and an undertow. It needs to be respected with open water respect."
Hopkins recommends that children always wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket while boating or swimming in the lake. Always check the water depth before jumping or allowing a child to jump into the water.
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