Swimming safety tips for parents and kids this summer

As more pools open throughout the region, experts urge swimmers to stay safe in the water.
Updated: Jun. 7, 2021 at 7:19 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - When the temperatures soar, the search for a cooling dip begins, but jumping into a pool comes with some risk.

As more pools open throughout the region, experts warn about keeping yourself safe in the water, even for less-experienced swimmers. Catch the Wave General Manager Brandon Stoffregen said parents should prepare an emergency action plan similar to one for a fire drill.

“If you have a pool in the backyard, kids should know what the dangers are: what to do if they see something happen, what not to do if they see something happen,” said Stoffregen. “A lot of times kids think they are supposed to jump in and save other kids, which is in fact the opposite...they should run and go get an adult or in the bad cases call 911.”

When in public pools, experts say parents should also be aware of the lifeguards supervising the waters and the location of safe spaces.

Experts encourage parents to enroll their children in swim lessons, but while lessons can protect them a little bit more in the pool, waterways such as the Rock River are a whole different story. Even the most experienced swimmer can find themselves caught in the undertow. It’s illegal to swim anywhere in the river in Winnebago County due to the unpredictability of the current flow.

Rockford Park District Police Department Detective Lisa Hodges said the rules are put in place to keep the community safe and prevent any possible deaths.

“It’s just been growing as the weather has changed and gotten warmer and that people think it’s ok. The signs are here. They are posted and they are just being ignored. We just don’t want it to come to the point where we are doing a body rescue,” said Hodges.

Stoffregen says being cautious is good because the water can be a fun place to play. He’s happy to see people enjoying it again.

“We missed them last year. we don’t do this for the money we do this for the we love working with kids,” said Stoffregen.

In addition, Stoffregen hires instructors who aren’t in it for the money.

“Everybody we hire one of the first questions we ask is why are you here why did you sign up for catch the wave and if the first answer cause I want to work with kids or I have a genuine passion for drowning prevention or things like that it’s just not somebody we are looking to hire in,” said Stoffregen.

He said instructors train for about 40 hours and all of them are trained for infant survival and survival techniques for children, older than three months old and younger than 13 years old.

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