KATY (Covering Katy News) – Following the hospitalization of two toddlers in water-related accidents on Memorial Day in the Katy area, Covering Katy News reached out to a water safety expert for advice on keeping children safe this summer.
Kathleen McMordie is a registered nurse and the founder/owner of Texas Swim Academy on Greenbusch Road in Katy. “There is no such thing as a near drowning,” said McMordie. “A drowning is a drowning is a drowning.”
McMordie says there are three types of drowning – fatal, non-fatal and non-fatal with injury.
“The last one is going to be a child with long-term effects,” she said. “Drowning is really a brain issue, not a respiratory issue.”
McMordie says the best way to keep your family safe is to provide layers of protection.
The first level of protection is parental supervision.
“Have a designated water watcher,” she said. “You are not on the phone, you are not talking to someone, you are watching the children in the pool.”
Layer two is swim lessons. McMordie cautions that many common swim lessons are not enough, and parents should enroll their children as young and 6 months in high-quality survival swim lessons. Survival swim lessons teach children to swim and independently roll on their back and breathe, the ability to independently surface and swim to a wall.
She says that the common use of floaties and other float devices can actually prove dangerous.
“We kind of set children up to drown with this stuff,” she said. “Floaties and puddle jumpers are extremely dangerous for children. Unfortunately, parents think they are helping them be safer in the water. We are teaching them that it is OK to get in the water but they don’t understand that the puddle jumper is what is keeping them up. It puts them in a vertical position, which is a sinking position. We have parents more relaxed and children thinking they know how to swim when they don’t. If you need to use a safety device use a Coast Guard approved life jacket.”
Layer three is barriers and fences around the pool.
“With barriers and fences make sure there is no furniture or anything the child could push up and climb over,” she said. “You also want to remove any toys or anything that could aid them, and make sure the gates are securely closed.”
Drowning is the leading cause of accidental death in children ages 1 through 5. McMordie began teaching survival swim lessons in her backyard in 2004 and opened the Texas Swim Academy in Katy in 2012.