MIDWEST CITY, Oklahoma -- Hundreds of kindergartners from central Oklahoma spent the day splashing around in a pool, but they weren't just having fun. They were learning very important lessons about water safety.
Rose State College hosted the "Wee Water Wahoo" event Friday. Safe Kids Oklahoma organized the event to help teach children about water safety skills and the proper way to wear a life jacket.
Across the nation, approximately 830 children ages 14 and under die from unintentional drowning every year. The vast majority of those drownings occur during the summer.
"It's so important. Actually, childhood drowning is the leading cause of death of children under 14," said Lauren Farrah, coordinator of Safe Kids Oklahoma. "Being able to catch them before swim season really starts, before Memorial Day weekend and before summer, hopefully kind of prepping them and getting them ready for the summer season."
Farrah says in addition to making sure kids know how dangerous the water can be, it's important that adults constantly supervise children when they're in or around water.
"A drowning child cannot cry or shout for help. The most important precaution for parents is active supervision. Simply being near your child is not necessarily supervising. Children are at risk in a variety of locations, whether it be an open body of water, creek, pond or pool. Younger children are also at risk for drowning in buckets, bathtubs and toilets."
Farrah says swimming lessons are one component of keeping kids safe in the water, but they also need to hear and learn water safety lessons at a young age.
"About 4 years old is a great time to start preaching these messages, and even younger, trying to get them to have a healthy fear of the water. We want them to know that it is very risky and it is a very dangerous area to be around."