AUSTIN (KXAN) — On a hot summer day, the splash pad at Bailey Park is a hot spot with kids running and splashing around. Nearby, laughter echoes from backyard and neighborhood pools. Summer is just kicking off, but it’s already been deadly for kids in Central Texas.
Colin’s Hope says five kids in Travis and Williamson counties have died from drowning. Across the state, the non-profit says 39 kids have died this year. Many more have survived.
“I really do truly believe that if we all talk about this and we talk about it with the same level of urgency that we talk about other things like seat belts, bike helmets and things like that then we can really change this,” said Alissa Magrum, Executive Director of Colin’s Hope “I mean these are preventable, so let’s prevent them.”
The non-profit was named after Colin Holst. He drowned in a life guarded pool 11 years ago. Magrum says in the last few weeks she’s been hearing a lot from families after close calls.
One of those families has been the Archibald Smith’s. They were at a get together when their toddler got into trouble in the pool. He had gotten out and was with his dad when he walked away.
“I noticed my two-year-old at the time jumping in the pool without his puddle jumper on and went straight to the bottom of the pool,” says mom Jill Archibald Smith “So I ran over and jumped in with all my clothes, picked him up and was able to be there in a split second.”
The Archibald Smith’s say they started swim lessons early with their kids and are now pushing those lessons even harder. “From that day forward we spoke about why it’s so important mommy and daddy need to be in the pool with you and why you never jump into the pool,” explained Archibald Smith.
Colin’s Hope says always assign an undistracted adult to watch your kids if you have to step away. Enroll the kids in swim lessons. Kids who can’t swim should always wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket.
The group also says families need to make sure they have multiple barriers around water.
“Don’t be afraid to ask questions if your kids are going to someone’s house ask what their water safety rules are. They may be different than your own and teach your kids to speak up for themselves,” said Magrum “We teach kids to ask an adult to be your water guardian and power kids to think about the safety.”
Colin’s Hope will be taking swim lessons to Typhoon Texas in Pflugerville on Thursday, June 20. It’s for the world’s largest swim lesson event and starts at 8 a.m.