JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Florida loses more kids under the age of five to drowning than any other state. First for you, there are multiple programs available to help teach children how to swim.
The YMCA is partnering with Waterproof Jax to offer free swim lessons. To qualify, the child must meet the requirements of a free or reduced lunch or be the child of an active duty military member. There is also a pilot program for students attending summer school at Woodland Acres Elementary. Those students are eligible for free swim lessons as well. The program is first come, first serve. Contact Jax Aquatics at 255-7927.
If you don't meet those qualifications, the YMCA does teach swimming as part of its summer camp.
Not only is it important for children to learn to swim, but parents have to keep a watchful eye on their children. John Harrell with Florida Department of Children and Families said 21 kids have died from drowning in DCF's five county area in the last three years.
"It only takes a few minutes for a child to get in trouble where they are struggling, you want to be able to respond quickly. If you have got someone watching those children at all times and being an active watcher that is going to help," said Harrell.
He says pool owners also need to put a fence with a lock around their pool to keep children out. Parents should also remind their children that even if they can swim, they should not get in a pool without an adult present.