Riverside County sounds alarm due to rise in child drownings

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Monday, July 2, 2018
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After a rise in child drownings, Riverside County officials are reminding parents to teach their kids pool safety.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (KABC) -- The Riverside County Department of Public Health is sounding the alarm over child drownings.

Since January 2018 seven children have drowned in the county, the majority of them in backyard pools.

"There was a six-year-old boy from Jurupa Valley who drove his battery-operated car into the backyard pool. He was underwater for 10 minutes before he was found," said Kim Saruwatari, director with county health.

On Monday, the county's Water Safety Coalition held a press conference to discuss drowning prevention ahead of the Fourth of July holiday.

"Please stay alert when children are around water. Designate a sober and responsible adult to supervise them," said Battalion Chief Todd Phillips with CalFire/ Riverside County Fire Department.

Swim safety is a big part of the push.

First Five of Riverside is offering families low-cost and no-cost swim lessons.

The agency is providing them through a $340,000 grant aimed at teaching 880 children in the county self-rescue techniques.

"These lessons give your child that second line of defense that they need to be able to survive if they fall in," said Cathryn Van Der Linden, owner of SoCal Water Babies.

Van Der Linden teaches children as young as 6-months-old to float and wait for help.

"We teach them how to lay on their back to relax and float and rest and breathe, " said Van Der Linden.

Information on low-cost and free swim lessons is available here.