GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 4 is drowning. It’s a statistic the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project says isn’t talked about enough.
May is Water Safety Month. The co-creators of the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project spoke with News 8 about recognizing Water Safety Month and debunked some common myths that surround drowning.
“Hollywood has shown us drowning is this big loud long affair with waving and yelling and it takes three or four minutes so that a scantily clad lifeguard can run in slow motion down the beach,” Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project co-creator Bobby Pratt said.
Pratt said drowning happens in a matter of seconds, especially if someone lifts their arms to flail around as that only causes them to sink deeper, making the victim unable to breathe or yell for help.
Pratt said water safety discussions with older children and proper training with children of all ages are vital conversations to have.
“There’s a lot of preventative measures, making sure that your child knows how to swim. That includes infant swimming lessons, it includes, as they get older, learning how to swim in open bodies of water because it’s very different swimming in a pool versus swimming in Lake Michigan,” Pratt said.
Pratt said life jackets — and actually wearing them — are important for people of all ages.
Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project co-creator Dave Benjamin hopes to see an increase in funding for education and research when it comes to drowning and water safety in the region. He said he’d like to see some kind of implementation within schools.
“If we look at schools today, there’s fire drills, tornado drills, school shooter drills, even earthquake drills in many states, including Indiana and Illinois. My kids grew up doing earthquake drills, and there has not been a fatal earthquake in my lifetime in Illinois or Indiana” Benjamin said.
Benjamin made it clear he’s not opposed to that training but he said if we’re looking at statistics, a child is more likely to die by drowning then by fires, tornadoes, school shooters and earthquakes combined.
“We really do need a water safety curriculum in schools in the Great Lakes region as well as nationwide,” Benjamin said.
For the full conversation with Bobby Pratt and Dave Benjamin, watch the video in the player above.