BALTIMORE — Drowning continues to claim the life of around 50 Marylanders every year, and every death is preventable. That's why mom Lisa D'Antonio brings her daughter to the Y in Towson.
"I just want her to get used to swimming and get used to being in the water and not being afraid of the water," said D'Antonio. "I want her to just be able to enjoy being in the water. I want her to go to the beach, and I don't want her to be scared of drowning."
In 2017, drowning was one of the leading non-medical-related causes of death for children under age 4 in Maryland, according to the Department of Health.
"Just as reading or writing, learning to swim should be a necessary skill children should have," said senior swim instructor at the Y in Towson, Kim Capone.
Capone says they have classes for kids as young at 6 months old. She says the younger the better and refresher lessons help too. And while kids are in the pool, parents need to be vigilant.
"There is no substitute for parent supervision. The more eyes on the water with a child in it, the better," said Capone.
According to a 2018 Consumer Protection Safety Commission report, backyard pools appear to be the most dangerous for young kids, accounting for 85 percent of drowning fatalities for kids under age 5. Capone says make sure you have a fence around the pool with locks and consider installing a pool alarm.
"You should never keep toys in the water. Always take toys out of the water in you backyard pool and store them away so children aren't tempted to jump in the water," said Capone.
It's not just young kids. Teens and adults are losing their lives on the water too, so it's important for everyone to be prepared in case something goes wrong. Learning CPR can save lives.
"You often hear about that golden hour. In certain situations, it can be a matter of minutes, so as soon as assistance can be rendered properly, the greater the chances the person has to survive," said Richard McIntire with the American Red Cross.
The Red Cross offers adult and pediatric CPR training classes and so do lots of local fire departments. It's also a good idea for kids to learn CPR too.
For swim safety week at the end of June, the Y in Towson is offering free swim lessons.