Zachary loved to swim in our backyard pool, and he was an incredibly strong swimmer. One summer evening in 2007, Zachary became trapped in our pool drain and drowned as we tried to free him from the drain’s powerful suction.
Since his passing, we launched The ZAC Foundation, an organization dedicated to preparing children and their families for a lifetime of swimming safety.
As we learn about drownings in communities across the country, I can’t help but want to highlight the importance of the first component of the ABC and Ds of water safety: an adult who is a designated “water watcher” any time a child is swimming.
This individual, responsible for focusing solely on the children in the pool distraction free (no phone, books or conversations), should scan the surface of the water and ensure that the children are following basic safety rules. So many drowning accidents occur during the split second an adult is distracted.
While acting on the water watcher concept is important as a first step in water safety, there are still other important safety precautions parents must take into consideration to keep their children safe.
These important precautions are the backbone of our ZAC Camps’ creative and engaging one-week curriculum, designed to provide children access to professional swim instruction, emergency safety education with local First Responders and important lessons regarding water safety.
To further expand our mission, we published a water safety children’s book titled, “The Polar Bear Who Couldn’t, Wouldn’t Swim,” which is centered around the ABC and Ds of water safety.
• A is for Adults: An adult “water watcher” should always supervise a child in or around water.
• B is for Barriers: Children should be taught to respect barriers around pools such as fences and gates. In that regard, children should be taught never to open gates to pool areas or climb over fences to access water.
• C is for Classes: Swimming classes are vital for children, and CPR and preparedness classes are important for adults to ready them in the event of a water emergency.
• D is for Drains: Pool and spa drains can be very dangerous. All swimmers should stay away from pool drains and learn what to do if they spot something wrong with a drain: exit the pool immediately and do not return to the water until the issue is resolved completely.
My goal is to create change in how water safety is thought about by parents and their children. If you’re a parent, I encourage you to visit our website to learn more about potentially life-saving information on drain entrapment prevention, swim and self rescue skills, and how to develop a family water safety plan.