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Safety tips for summer swimming

With summer in full swing, many families are hitting the pool to cool off from the heat.

While enjoying fun in the sun is great, it’s important to practice proper pool safety. On average, 356 children die from drowning per year. Of that number, 77 percent are younger than age 5, according to The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Logan Bay, a lifeguard at the Oxford City Pool, said there are plenty of ways parents can educate their children on pool safety.

“I recommend parents always keep an eye on their children in and out of the pool,” Bay said. “Safety is our number one priority.”

One recommendation the CPSC makes is that adults at the pool designate an official “Water Watcher,” an adult tasked with supervising children in the water. Part of the Water Watcher’s job is keeping a constant eye on the children, and the CPSC suggests that these individuals abstain from reading books, texting on smartphones or doing anything that might otherwise distract them.

Teaching children to swim can also be a life-saver. The Oxford City Pool, located at 220 Washington Ave., offers swim classes to both children and adults, free of charge.

The Oxford Park Commission plans to host five sessions of swim lessons this summer, which will run through July 27. Lessons will be held from 10 to 10:30 a.m. and 6:15 to 6:45 p.m. Children will learn everything from blowing bubbles, to floating, to backstroke, according to the program’s description. To register, parents can visit http://oxfordparkcommission.com or stop by the OPC office.

Swim lessons are a big help in terms of building confidence and staying safe in the water, Bay said. However, according to Bay, skill should not mean less supervision.

“The most common accidents we see are by the little ones who think they can swim and get on the wibit,” he said. “The wibit is an obstacle course in the middle of the pool. Young ones climb all the way across the wibit and slide off the edge, and then can’t touch the bottom of the pool, and that’s when we have to go get them.”

In the event of an accident, the CPSC stressed the importance of knowing CPR for both adults and children. Bystander rescue and resuscitation play a critical role in the survival of drowning, and CPR has a 91 percent success rate among drowning victims.