Keeping Kids Safe Around Water

The death of a child is always a tragic event, but one Lincoln family hopes their loss can save the lives of other children.

Blake and Kathy Collingsworth are honoring the memory of two and a half year-old Joshua who drown in a swimming pool in nearly five years ago.

It looks like a typical photo op at the Henry Doorly Zoo, young children gathering around a furry mascot.

But it's actually a life saving lesson.

“Our job today is to just spread awareness that water safety especially swim lessons are really important,” Kristen Brossette of DiVentures Scuba Swim Center said. ”We just want to make sure everyone is aware and fully equipped for the summer season.”

Otter Spotter Day is intended to get the message of water safety through to not only these children, but their parents as well.

It only takes a moment for a fun day on the water to turn tragic. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, drowning is the number one killer of children under the age of five years old. Otter Spotter Day hopes to change that.

Stacie Shurchay is already signing up three-year-old Issac and his older brother for swim lessons.

But until they learn how to swim...

“I'm always with them,” she said. “We always make sure we have a good ratio one to one when they are little and so if I’m going with them I make sure I’ve got another adult with us.”

Melissa Picchietti takes three-year-old Carson and his sister swimming often.

“He has a life vest, one for if we're in the lakes and one for a pool which isn't as big and bulky to keep them afloat and my husband and I always stay next to him so he's not out of our hand's reach,” she said.

This is more than a local event, it's a world-wide social networking phenomena.

Pictures and stories gathered here in Omaha are shared with children in other countries.

Hoping no one else will have to suffer the loss of a child through drowning.

“You just have to be close by, anytime they are in what six inches of water, it's scary,” Stacie said.

The Otter Spotter Foundation started the “Float For Life” program that teaches toddlers about water safety and has spread to 17 area YMCA locations.

Other programs are teaching under-privileged children the importance of floating on their backs.

More than 2,000 infants and toddlers have been taught these life saving skills.

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