In the wake of a tragic drowning that claimed the lives of a 3-year-old girl and her grandmother, pool and swimming safety are being scrutinized months before the peak of the summer swimming season.
Madyson Margorie Ihrig, 3, and her grandmother, Yick Fong Ma, 65, were identified as the victims who drowned in a backyard pool Thursday morning at Margorie's parents' home in Woodbridge.
The incident is believed to be accidental, and it is suspected that Margorie fell in the pool and her grandmother, who could not swim, jumped in after her to save her.
An outpouring of community concern for the family has also brought on a renewed search for how parents can keep themselves and their children safe in and around pools.
"It makes my heart break," said Julie Schiess, a Lodi resident who is also an instructor with Lodi Infant Swimming Resource. "A drowning is a preventable tragedy that no family should ever have to go through. I can't even fathom it." drowning deaths in pools in and around Lodi are rare — the last one occurring in July 2000 when former NFL quarterback Bill Munson was found drowned in his pool.
But according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, drowning is the leading cause of death for infants and children between the ages of 1 and 4.
Schiess said to avoid drowning deaths, families need to implement a "water safety plan" at home, much like an emergency fire plan or an earthquake plan.
But this plan is specific to help avoid, at all costs, someone falling into a pool and drowning.
The main priority is to try to have constant supervision, Schiess said. But keeping an eye on your child 100 percent of the time is nearly impossible, she said.
Going to Boy Scout training sessions or American Red Cross CPR classes can be the difference between a tragic accident and saving a life, she said.
"It takes two seconds (to fall into a pool)," she said. "A pool is a dangerous environment. Someone could be reaching to get a toy or just sitting by the side of the pool splashing the water. And then they just topple in. The point is to give (someone) the skills to have competence and confidence in the water."
Other tools in addition to learning how to swim are vital when it comes to pool safety, such as life jackets and child-proof door locks, said John Mohamed, spokesman for the Drowning Accident Rescue Team out of Sacramento.
Mohamed said keeping your back door locked at all times, or having a child lock on the door, is crucial to keeping kids away from a pool and avoiding any accidents. Also, if you can afford it, a removable fence that surrounds the pool is great for when younger kids have a tendency to wander.
They cannot get in, and once they are able to swim, the fence can be removed, Mohamed said. The only downside? It can be a little expensive, upwards of $350.
"But can you really put a price on your child's safety?" Mohamed asked.
Floating alarms that can be placed in pools to detect when something or someone falls in and life jackets are two other options families have when it comes to equipping their backyard with the right safety equipment.
"Fifty percent of people we recover are rescuers," Mohamed added. "Their heart is in right place but as they get in water, their adrenaline runs out. Most people do float, and things like life jackets can help you get to the edge of the pool if you just stay calm."
Contact reporter Katie Nelson at firstname.lastname@example.org.