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China Grove child nearly drowns; swim experts offer safety tips

By Shavonne Walker

shavonne.walker@salisburypost.com

CHINA GROVE — A 5-year-old girl remains in a Charlotte hospital two days after she nearly drowned in a pool during a family gathering at a Thunder Road home.

The child is reportedly doing well, but experts offer safety tips to keep children safe while in the pool.

Rowan County Sheriff’s deputies were called to the home around 5:30 p.m. Sunday in response to a call about a young girl who was unconscious, officials said.

According to Rowan Sheriff’s officials, someone at the gathering heard a loud scream and another person yelled to call for 911. The child was pulled from a pool and someone there administered CPR prior to first responders’ arrival, said Capt. John Sifford.

The person was able to feel a pulse and the child was breathing at the scene. She was taken by ambulance to Carolinas HealthCare System NorthEast in Concord. She has since been moved to Levine Children’s Hospital in Charlotte.

“Sixty to 90 percent of all drownings with children under 5 occur in residential pools,” said Alex Rollins, the aquatics director at the Hurley Family Y.

Rollins said when children and adults attend swim lessons at the Y, instructors focus on four aspects of safety — backyard pool, boating, beach and sun.

“We make sure to address issues with home pools including make sure they are not unsupervised. They (children) should never be left alone,” Rollins said.

He also said having an adult present doesn’t mean a child is automatically safe, because if the adult cannot swim they can’t help if the child is in distress.

“Always be prepared for emergencies,” he suggests.

One way to be prepared, Rollins advises, is to have a ring buoy or a reaching pole because it doesn’t require a non-swimmer to get into the water.

He said it doesn’t take a lot of water for a child or adult to drown in and statistics show people are drowning in shallower water. A person can drown in less than four feet of water.

“You have to keep an eye on kids even if they are in three and a half feet of water,” he said.

“Never swim when lightning is present. Wait 30 minutes after the last strike of lightning or sound of thunder before getting back into the pool,” Rollins said.

Rollins said pool chemicals should be properly labeled and kept out of the reach of children.

Boaters aren’t required to wear life vests by law, but Rollins suggests any passenger on a boat where one anyway. The law only requires that a boat have life vests on board.

A swimmer who gets caught in rip currents of the ocean should try to swim parallel  with the shore until out of the current, Rollins said.

Instructors also warn swimmers to wear sunscreen while in the sun.

“There is a big chance of getting skin cancer with every sun burn you get so wear SPF of 15 or more,” he said.

The YMCA teaches swim lessons for infants as young as six months and even adults. One of the first lessons is getting new swimmers acclimated to the water.

“If you panic, it makes the situation worse,” Rollins said.

He said even if a child isn’t able to swim back to the edge of a backyard pool, instructors teach them the swim, float, swim technique. The technique encourages swimmers to swim a short distance, float to rest on their back and then flip over and swim to the edge.

The YMCA has pamphlets that detail the above safety tips and other helpful information that anyone can stop by to pick up, Rollins said.

Swim lessons are also offered one day a week for four weeks to members and non-members.

Contact reporter Shavonne Walker at 704-797-4253.

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