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Layers of Protection

Updated: Jun 21, 2020

Layers of protection could have saved them.

Drownings happen to real children. Real families. They are 100% preventable with multiple "layers of protection". Here, we present the stories of how a layer of protection could have prevented their child's fatal drowning.

#1- Constant Supervision

Deonesia Grays of Bria's House in Houston, TX lost her daughter in a public swimming pool. It was her first time swimming.

Bria left for the pool with another family; Deonesia stayed behind a few minutes to gather the snacks and towels. While the other mom was tending to a younger child, Bria jumped in the pool unnoticed.

Constant supervision would have prevented her from drowning. This is the first layer of protection. It is the layer that most often fails. Drowning is fast and it is silent. Always watch your children closely around any body of water.

64% of African American and 45% of Hispanic children possess poor swimming ability placing minority children at a greater risk of drowning.

#2- Water Watcher

Chezik Tsunoda of No More Under lost her son, Yori, at a friend's pool near Seattle, Washington.

He had just started taking swimming lessons and was reliant on a flotation device in the pool.

He slipped under the water unnoticed at a gathering surrounded by adults and children.

Designating a water watcher could have saved her son. At pool parties, there can be a misconception that everyone is watching the children, but in reality, no one is.

Responsible adults can take turns being a designated water-watcher. Remain free from distractions. Your only focus is scanning the pool and making sure the children are safe.

Drowning is fast and silent, there is no splashing or yelling for help.

Now, Chezik fights for No More Under.

#3- Alarms

David and Jennifer Witmer of Zane A. Witmer Memorial Foundation #BecauseofZane from Pennsylvania lost their son while visiting with family in Florida.

Zane snuck away unnoticed while riding bikes with family.

Having a pool alarm, or self immersion alarm, could have alerted his family that he had wandered off and found the pool. These alarms are an alerting system that could have prevented his drowning.

Door alarms leading outside are also an effective way to alert you if a child is wandering to the pool.

#4- Pool Fence

Christina Canavan, a certified ISR instructor, shares the story of how she lost her twin sons to drowning.

15-month-old Jaxon and Leyton climbed out of their cribs for the first time and discovered the pool unsupervised.

Having a pool fence with a self-closing and self-latching gate would have prevented her children from gaining access to the pool unsupervised.

Pool fences need to be at least 4 feet high and made of a material that is impossible for the children to climb. Keep all furniture away from the fence. Pool nets and covers can also be effective if you are diligent about replacing immediately after use of the pool.

Having a pool fence surrounding your pool is the most effective way to keep your child from drowning.

Now Christina skills children with the ability to self-rescue and says "not one more child drowns."

#5- Removal of Dog Doors

Jenny Bennett of Swim Safe Forever in Texas lost her son Jackson to a drowning in their backyard pool.

Their home had a dog door in their storm door, which was normally locked with a cover and the main backyard door closed in front of it.

One evening, the family returned home together. Jackson was thought to be upstairs with his sisters, but he had snuck away and found the dog door uncovered. It had only been a few minutes.

This is not a typical "layer" discussed in drowning prevention, but we recognize many children have lost their lives in this manner. Removing the dog door, especially during the dangerous toddler years, could have saved their son.

Additional layers of protection of alarms, pool fences and high quality swim lessons also would have made a difference that day.

Jenny now strives to educate others of layers of protection through many venues and provides scholarships for swim lessons in her community.

#6- High Quality Swimming Lessons

Keri Morrison of Live Like Jake in Florida shares how she lost her son, Jake, to drowning.

While at a family members home for the Thanksgiving holiday, Jake slipped outside and fell off a dock of the intercoastal waterway. It was dark and took 20 minutes to find Jake. By the time they found him, it was too late.

In this situation, there was no pool to fence, no pool to alarm, no one was swimming so having a designated water watcher would not have helped. Jake slipped out during a brief lapse in supervision, which occurs daily to all parents. Jake could have survived if HE WAS SKILLED WITH THE ABILITY TO SELF-RESCUE.

Skilling the child is a layer of protection which occurs if all other layers fail. If the child makes it to the water unnoticed, they are able to roll to a float to breathe and then swim to the exit of the water. High quality swimming lessons train children with these life saving skills.

Keri now is now the founder of Live Like Jake who has helped thousands of children obtain self rescue swimming lessons.

#7- Life Jackets

Heather Babcock, of Carissa's Caution in West Virginia, lost her step-daughter Carissa to drowning when she was swimming in a river with friends.

Carissa loved to swim and had multiple swim lessons, but swimming in a river is very different than swimming in a pool. That afternoon, the current took hold of Carissa and she was unable to swim to safety. They were not able to recover her body until the next day.

Wearing a life jacket on open water could have made the difference between life and death. Children 9 years old and older are more likely to drown in natural bodies of water.

Heather wants you to know and discuss with your children the differences between swimming in a pool versus swimming in a natural body of water. Teach your children about safe places to swim, pay attention to signs and flags that designate safe swim areas and how to swim if caught in a rip current.

They are all different. Different area of the country. Different scenarios. But they share the same story. They lost a child to drowning. And layers of protection could have saved them.

In the words of Deonesia Grays, we want everyone to know.

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