Child Drownings Bring Emphasis To Water Safety

Three children have drowned in the past week in South Mississippi.

The latest incident happened over the weekend, when a two year old boy drowned in his grandparent's pool in Long Beach.

Last week, two youngsters drowned in a canal in Hancock County.

The tragic deaths bring attention to the importance of water safety.

"You're going to swim across the pool. You're going to swim out to Miss Debbie. She's going to be out that direction. You'll swim out to her," yelled water safety instructor, Joan Petry, to a group of sixth graders.

The Nativity Elementary students will spend a week of P.E. classes in the water at the Biloxi Natatorium.

"In the water, feet kicking nice and easy, don't worry about moving your arms," said Danny Walton, as he helped a child with his backstroke.

Walton began teaching children to swim ten years ago and has some water safety advice for parents.

"The parents need to stress to the kids how dangerous it can be, but also stress how important it is to get them into some swimming lessons to where they realize it is fun," he said.

Swimming instructors stress learning at an early age. The natatorium offers classes for six month olds.

"At that time, we do ask the parents to get into the pool and we teach them how to swim along with the children and show them how to develop their child's swimming ability," said Petry.

Swimming lessons are an important safeguard for children. But adult supervision is also critical. It takes mere moments for a non swimming child to drown.

"We want them to be comfortable. But at the same time try and stress the respect for the water. And to understand what they can do and their abilities and no more, that they only have so much that they can do," Petry explained.

For the Nativity youngsters, a week's worth of lessons should increase their confidence and swimming skills.  At the end of the week, the students will receive a Red Cross certification of their swimming skills.