Lawmakers hope for a swimmingly safe summer

CHARLESTON, SC - Keke Collins bio | email

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - In just a few weeks when school lets out families looking to beat the heat will go for a swim.

For as much fun as this summertime activity might be, it is a choice that comes with risk.

"We ought to have a lot more emphasis on water safety because I always tell people the lakes, the rivers the ocean they are not going anywhere but the population in this great state is on the increase," said Rep. Wendell Gilliard, D-Charleston.

The growing population makes the likelihood of accidents greater, which served as the motivating factor for Rep. Gilliard to push the Water Safety Resolution through the state legislature.

It was Rep. Gilliard's second effort at reminding children of water safety after his proposal that would have required schools to have swimming lessons failed in the legislature.

Instead this resolution encourages schools to remind children to make safety a priority when venturing out into the water during the summer.

"Even if they just have what we call a day of discussion about water safety. To me that's a way of tweaking their mind, "said Rep. Gilliard.

With some local kids already making a splash, lifeguard and safety instructor Thomas Madden said knowing how to swim is essential and the process can begin early on in life.

"You can start swim lessons as early as six months old. By the time they're able to walk…about two-to-three years old you should be getting them swim lessons because if they're able to walk, they can get away from you towards the water," said Madden.

Madden also said weaker swimmers should avoid eating thirty minutes before taking a dip.

"You can get cramps in your stomach, which if you're not that good at swimming and you get a cramp it's obviously going to keep you from being able to swim," said Madden.

According to Madden floatation devices can pose a danger to users and should be used with care.

"Inner tubes when they sit in them if they flip upside down their obviously not going to be able to flip back up and it's going to hold them face down in the water," said Madden.

American Red Cross "Learn-to-Swim" courses will be held at all Charleston pools this summer.

Enrollment is Saturday, May 22, at W.L. Stephens Aquatic Center and Martin Luther King, Jr. Pool.

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