Class teaches babies to avoid drowning - KPTV - FOX 12

Class teaches babies to avoid drowning

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Kaylee Emmert doesn't walk yet, but she's already learning how to keep herself from drowning.

The 10-month-old and her mother are enrolled in a swim survival skills class at Milwaukie's Swimbabes.

"The most important thing is giving them a rescue skill, a self-rescue skill," said Jackie Young, founder of Swimbabes, "so that if anyone isn't nearby and they have an accident around the water, even fully clothed, they're able to flip over, get on their back and get their air."

Kids as young as 6 months can take the class.

Parents and an instructor are never far from the little ones, standing in the pool to guide them as they practice splashing, putting their heads under the water and floating.

As they babies get stronger and grow comfortable in the pool, they practice turning onto their backs and floating to the surface. An instructor and parents guide the children through different scenarios such as walking off the edge of a floating mat, going down a slide and stepping off a block on the side of the pool.

"It's a little nerve-wracking at first," said Kaylee's father, Tyler Emmert. "Definitely get used to it. Now it's pretty comfortable and I just get excited for her when she's in there."

Instructors say swim survival skills do not replace adult supervision or a life jacket, but they can be a crucial backup skill.

"What you realize is when they go down, babies can just sink down and there's no way of getting to them," said Bieker Peterson, who attends the class with her 1-year-old daughter. "So when you actually see them going and pushing up and floating, it's the most incredibly experience ever."

All four of Peterson's daughters have taken the class over the years because the family has two ponds on their property.

"Actually my oldest has gone in, slipped, but she didn't panic," she said. "She got right out because she took control. She wasn't scared of the water. It's all because of here."

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