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New Study says more kids are drowning in open water each year

Posted: 8:02 PM, May 22, 2018
Updated: 2018-05-22 21:02:46-04

A recent study by Safe Kids Worldwide found that hundreds of children are drowning every year in open bodies of water like Lake Michigan. 

Safe Kids data shows drowning victims are 80 percent male, nearly 50 percent happen in open water for ages 15 to 19 years old. Overall more than 1,000 kids drowned and 7,000 went to the emergency room in 2016. 

Although Leah Pound's 16-year-old son Caesar, fits the Safe Kids profile for a high-risk drowning victim, she tries her hardest to protect him, taking him to swim classes at an early age. 

"It's important to know how to swim because we live on a lake. It's definitely important for safety reasons," said Pound. 

Concerned mother Denise Cawley and her son both know how to swim. They say the statics aren't surprising. 

"In a split second they can be away from us, or something, and it's hard to keep track of all that. So, we just need all the extra assurance that we can get," said Cawley. 

Assurances like lifeguards do help, says YMCA's Senior Aquatics Director Jacob Byrne.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signed into law the ability for 15-year-olds to become lifeguards, hoping to curb the lifeguard shortage across the state. But, Byrne says there's a deeper issue.  

"It's a culture shift where if a parent doesn't learn how to swim, their child doesn't learn how to swim and it's passed on through generations," said Byrne. 

To help curb the issue, the YMCA hosts Safety Around Water an affordable swim class, $10 for families or $5 dollars per person.