BLOUNT COUNTY, Tenn. — Local lifeguards urge parents to sign their children up for swim lessons and to always keep an eye on them when near water.
This after the Blount County Sheriff's Office said a 3-year-old girl drowned in a backyard pool Friday.
Danielle Quintanar, the head lifeguard at Tennova Health and Fitness Center, explained a drowning can happen in seconds.
"It can be very quick, where kids just happen to walk off a step you know if they're in a pool or they just get really close to the edge and happen to fall in," Quintanar said.
Like lifeguards, Quintanar advises parents to keep their eyes open and alert.
"Prevention is the best thing you can do in my opinion," Quintanar urged. "Always keeping your eyes on your children, not thinking they're always going to be waterproof."
Swim lessons are typically offered starting at 6 months old, and the instructors teach life-saving techniques.
"A lot of it is just training them to kind of get acclimated and it's just that immediate response, so doing repetitions, having them jump in, turn over, float on their back," Quintanar said.
CDC research shows about one in five people who die from drowning are children 14 years old and younger.
"I mean think about the world is 71% water and your kids are 100% curious, so teaching them to swim is a great layer of protection you can use," Amanda Roland, the aquatics director for the YMCA, said.
The YMCA is leading an effort to start Spring 2020 to try and lower that number. It's called "Water Watchers."
"This is designating an adult or maybe a babysitter to be the person that's watching the water and so you can take turns," Roland explained.
It's intended to create less guesswork on who is alert on dry land.
"So whoever's wearing the badge, that person's sole focus should be on that water and the children in that pool," Roland emphasized.
YMCA hopes the program can serve as prevention.
“Having that adult supervision is so key to keeping children safe around the water," Roland said. "So even if it’s not your child necessarily, you may be right there, the one that’s gonna pick them up and save their life.”
If you would like to learn more about YMCA swim lessons, click here.
To sign up for Tennova swim lessons, you can call the front desk at (865) 859-8000.