Experts say to flip, float and follow when faced with hazardous water

MISHAWAKA, Ind. -- With every body of water, comes a hazard. Even as air temperatures continue to climb, water remains cold. When submerged in cold water, swimmers should follow the 1-10-1 principle. One minute to get your breathing under control, ten minutes of meaningful movement, and one hour until hypothermia can kill you.

For drowning accidents, most victims immediately react with movement. However, experts say getting out of water is a marathon, not a sprint. Therefore, the best option is to flip, float and follow. Floating and remaining calm is the first step to finding a plan of survival.

Dave Benjamin with the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project explains everyone knows the expression “stop, drop and roll” for fire safety. This same level of education is necessary to prevent future water accidents.

“The biggest factor to water safety is there is not enough education to water safety. So everyone in the nation knows if your clothes catch on fire you stop, drop and roll. But very few people know that if you are struggling water you need to float and stay at the surface. Your instinct is to fight to survive, and you gas out all of your energy and you submerge,” says Benjamin.  

Benjamin also saying to avoid going near water under rough conditions, but even so, every body of water can be dangerous, so preparation is crucial.

The same concept of flipping and floating is also seen in infants water safety as well. The CDC reports that teaching kids as young as one year old how to swim can reduce the risk of drowning by up to 88%. The American Academy of Pediatrics changed its recommendation for swimming lessons two years ago in 2019.

But how do babies actually learn those potentially life-saving skills? Marci Harmon, with Infant Aquatics, says the first step is training them to hold their breath. After frequent repetition, Harmon then moves onto the next step which is “flip” and “float.”

The goal is that when an accident happens in the water, a baby reacts immediately. The five-week program even ends with infants doing lessons in their clothes to give them practice in different conditions. Harmon says these techniques are important--because tragedy can strike in an instant.

“It happens to anybody, anywhere. The “I watch them all the time” “I am always with them” I get that but I also have three children myself, and you will not be with them every minute, they are smart cookies they learn how to open doors and unlock locks and do latches and they get creative if you have a backyard pool, they will figure out a way to get into it,” says Harmon.

For further information about Infant Aquatics, visit here. For further information about their scholarship program, visit here.  

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