Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death for children ages 1-4 years old.
It happens to loving, careful families.
It can happen in 30 seconds -- and if you think it can't happen to you, it is probably MORE LIKELY to happen to you.
Thirty years ago, I was swimming in a family friend's pool when the adults went inside to bring out the dinner food. I was an excellent swimmer, so no one was worried about leaving me in the pool. No one saw the family's daughter, who was not a good swimmer, slip out the door and jump in the pool on top of me.
She was younger than me, but heavier, and I couldn't shake her off. I couldn't even get to the surface to scream. Her father jumped in and pulled her off of me as the black was closing in, and I was about to pass out.
Twenty years ago, as a lifeguard, I rescued a 4-year-old girl. Her family had just arrived at the pool. Her two older brothers headed straight for the diving well, while her parents were setting up a pack 'n play for her younger brother. The little girl was used to wearing floaties, but she didn't have them on yet. She jumped in and sank to the bottom.
She barely made a splash as she went in. She didn't come back up. I had her back on the pool deck before her parents ever realized she was missing. She was fine, but her parents were badly shaken.
Three years ago, my kids were swimming at a neighbor's pool. Four adults were sitting at a table just feet away, watching them. My son, Will, reached for a toy in the pool and slipped off the step. He couldn't make it back to the side, and I jumped in after him.
He didn't yell, and the other kids in the pool didn't realize anything was wrong until I jumped in. I kept thinking, what if we hadn't been looking at him at that very moment? How long would it have taken to realize something was wrong?
Kids drown silently and quickly. They drown while everyone thinks someone else is watching them, often at parties. They drown when you think they are in the house. They drown when they open the door you think they can't open. They drown while you are distracted for just a moment. They drown when they have had swim lessons. They drown when they are good swimmers because something else has happened that you didn't foresee.
Swim lessons are critical, but they are no substitutes for constant supervision. Our family loves the water, swimming and pools, but I respect the danger.
I've seen firsthand how quickly a fun day at the pool can turn into a life-threatening emergency.