How to prevent the No. 1 cause of death for children under 5 — drowning

NEW YORK — Each summer, tragedy strikes as children of all ages head to the pool.

“It’s still the leading cause of death for children under 5.  The second leading cause of death for children up to the age of 14.  It’s 100 percent preventable," says Bobby Hazen, the founder of EndDrowningNow.com.

One way to prevent drowning is teaching infants how to swim.

Infants ages 2 to 6 months have a natural instinct still in place from the womb when it comes to water, and actually float onto their backs.  Most importantly, they don’t panic and flail.

When asked if a little kid can really instinctively work to save their own lives, Hazen says yes.

"They can turn over, kick, get to the wall.  It buys them maybe 10 seconds, 20, 30.  It’s an amazing amount of time when it comes to saving a life," he said.

Pools, beloved by many during the summer swelter, kill 350 children every year under the age of 5, and submersions involving children happen quickly, in as little time as it takes to answer a phone, and it happens without a sound.

Hazen describes it in devastating detail:  “Drowning is a silent event.  They’re not splashing.  Not flailing.  They take water in lungs and it will be silent. They go under.”

PIX11 spoke to one mother as she held her bubbly 7-month-old Christina in the pool.

“Unfortunately, my husband’s younger brother when he was a child was the victim of a drowning accident.  So we knew.  We knew that we needed make sure it never happened in our family," Dr. Stephanie Decarolis said.

In addition to getting swim lessons, here are some ways to prevent pool and beach tragedies:

  • Always designate a water watcher who is a nondrinking adult
  • That person should not be distracted, including by cellphones
  • Adults should stay at arm's length from children in the ocean
  • People should only swim in the ocean with a lifeguard present
  • Pools should be guarded by gates and door alarms