Olympic swimmer encourages parents to rethink pool safety

Bode Miller and his wife, Morgan, are grieving over the loss of their 19-month-old daughter. They opened up to the Today Show about the day their little girl drowned in their family pool. “There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t pray for the opportunity to go back to that day and make it different,” an emotional Morgan Miller said.

The couple are choosing to live life with a purpose, and hope to make sure no other parent feels the pain that they do. 

Swimming can be a great way to cool off in the Alabama heat, yet it can carry risks. A report from last year showed that swimming lessons alone do not prevent drowning. They can reduce the risk of drowning, but do not eliminate it. Even strong swimmers can become overwhelmed or tired in the water. Drowning happens quick and is quiet, which means parents should be cautious when kids are swimming in or are near a body of water.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drowning kills about 10 people each day in the U.S. and is the leading cause of death among young children.

How to prevent it

  • Stay close

Children and other people who are weak swimmers should be within arm’s reach of an adult in case something goes wrong. Drowning can happen fast. You should know where your children are always, and supervise water play.

  • Learn CPR

You should know how to perform CPR in the event you find yourself in a life-saving situation.

  • Utilize a fence

You should install a fence to separate your pool from the house and the rest of the yard. You want to ensure children don’t have access to the pool when you’re not around.

To encourage pool safety, you should have small children and weak swimmers wear life jackets in and around the water. Experts say that arm floaties and floating pool toys are not enough, and everyone should wear a life jacket when boating. It’s important to remember that drowning not only happens in the deep end, but also in the shallow water. Shallow fountains and baby pools also pose a serious risk of drowning among small children.

Parents like the Millers are encouraging parents to take pool safety seriously. Bode says he went to all the pediatrician’s meetings and check-ups and pool safety has not once come up. He thought they did everything they were supposed to do – enrolled in drowning prevention classes and installed a fence around their pool. The Millers and the AAP urge parents to “never even for a moment, leave children alone near open bodies of water.”

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