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Swim experts, law enforcement urging parents to supervise children around pools

Officials said children don't scream or flail around like larger kids. They, "basically take a gulp of water, and they quit breathing."

BEAUMONT, Texas — A family in Port Neches was left heartbroken after a 2-year-old girl drowned in a kiddie pool the day before Mother’s Day. 

Port Neches Police Chief Paul Lemoine called Saturday's drowning a terrible tragedy. Lemoine said children can drown quickly in a just few inches of water.

“They don't scream out like an adult or flail around like a larger kid,” Lemoine said. “They just basically take a gulp of water, and they quit breathing."

Drowning is the fourth leading cause of accidental death among children.

Chief Lemoine said Jefferson County sees these child drownings almost every year. Saturday’s drowning was the 14th child drowning in 2022 in Texas. 

It was the first one in Jefferson County. As Texas temperatures rise officials are offering a word of warning to families looking to cool off in area pools.

Swim experts said it only takes a few inches of water for a day of fun to turn into a tragedy and are urging parents to keep an eye on their children while they enjoy pools. 

More on: Where to find pool safety tips

“Whether it's a bucket in the backyard or, like I said, a swimming pool or even a bathtub, we lose children every year to accidental drowning in these sorts of environments,” Kevin Pearson, CEO of YMCA of Southeast Texas, said. 

Pearson said Southeast Texans are surrounded by water so it is important to stress safety, especially for the young. 

 “The number one thing that we can do as parents and adults is supervise our children,” Pearson said. “Knowing where they're at and what they're doing at all times.”

In 2021, there were 77 children who drowned in Texas, according to the Texas department of Family and Protective Services.

“We can prevent that just as we can prevent accidents by wearing a seatbelt in the car,” Pearson said. “We can prevent drownings by watching our children, knowing where they're at.”

Pearson said there are things parents can do to protect their kids like have them wear life vests, put up adequate fencing around pools or even install a pool alarm. Pool alarms alert parents when a child falls into the water.

Experts said the number one preventative action parents can take is to stay aware. Pearson said if you can't see a child, you can't save them from drowning. 

"Supervision's critical," Pearson said. "You go to a pool, there's typically a lifeguard on duty. They provide supervision. We ask parents to supervise as well so why would it be any different at home. We can't let our guard down even at home."

The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services said it's important to designate someone to watch children while they play in pools. Experts also recommend that parents empty kiddie pools when their children are done playing. 

Officials are encouraging parents to visit getparentingtips.com to find more helpful pool safety tips.

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