Start of summer brings increased focus on swimming pool safety

BOLINGBROOK, Ill. (WLS) -- Summer is here, which means it's time to hit the pool. Following the tragic drowning of Olympic skier Bode Miller's 19-month-old daughter, there is an increased focus on water safety at many pools.

In south suburban Bolingbrook, lifeguards had a refresher on CPR before the pool opened. It's just a drill, but in the event they pull someone out of the water, it could be a lifesaver.

In the pool, lifeguards also practiced pulling a potential drowning victim of the water using a dummy. Experts said it's critical to be able to recognize the signs of drowning.

"Usually vertical position, a little forward motion with the head at or near the surface of the water," said Wes Long, president of StarGuard elite, a company that trains lifeguards.

Long said on hot days, when the pool or lake is full of swimmers, it takes strong concentration to be able to quickly identify swimmers having difficulty.

"Drowning is a silent death. It's not handwaving and yelling. It's slipping into the water unnoticed," said Leslie Donovan of Starfish Aquatics.

Donovan urges parents to teach their kids basic water safety and how to swim at an early age.

Jonnie Fitzgerald had her 2-year-old son Anthony in the water learning to swim at three months, but said that doesn't mean she lets him out of arm's length in the pool.

"You still need to be watching them closely whether they have learned to swim or not," said Fitzgerald.

The Illinois Department of Child and Family Services said 20 cases of children who drowned in 2017 were brought to them because of alleged parental neglect. They are trying to spread the message about water safety.

"That's the whole crux of it. It can be prevented if we just are aware," said Nora Harms-Pavelski, DCFS.
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