WASHINGTON – A heat wave is hitting the D.C. metro area for the first time this season, sending children to swimming pools to cool off. But it is easy to forget how dangerous water can be.
“They assume that they’re not expending as much energy as they really are,” says Melanie Sasse, aquatics program supervisor for Montgomery County.
Sasse oversees county-run swimming pools.
“If children are six and under they need to be within arms reach even if the children can swim.”
A reminder of the tragic potential of water came over the weekend when Grace Tamo, 14, was pulled from a community pool in the Glenmont area.
Montgomery County police are investigating her death as a possible drowning.
“For older kids, parents do need to remind them before they head out to the pool to stay where they can stand,” Sasse says.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 10 people nationwide drown every day. Of those, two are children 14 or younger.
The CDC says children who are between the ages of one and four have the highest drowning rates.
For those who cannot swim the length of a pool, wearing a life jacket is the safest bet.
“Anytime that you’re around water, if you are going to be in something that is over your head or you are not confident, absolutely put one on,” Sasse says.
“People tend to overestimate their abilities.”