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Water Safety Awareness: Teaching kids how to self-rescue in life or death situations

“I’m trained to teach survival swimming to kids 6 months to 6 years old. So, they know what to do in case they fall in the water," Christie Cloutman said.

ST. LOUIS — May is National Water Safety Month. 

5 on Your Side spent the day with an instructor who specializes in teaching some of the Lou’s little ones self-rescue tools in the water. 

Christie Cloutman is a Certified ISR Instructor working in St. Louis and St. Charles counties. She said, “Drowning is the leading cause of death for kids under 4, unfortunately.” 

Cloutman makes sure these little ones are prepared for any plunge in the pool. She said, “I’m trained to teach survival swimming to kids 6 months to 6 years old. So, they know what to do in case they fall in the water.” 

With kids this age, the lessons look a little different. “For those young children, it’s important they learn how to ‘roll, float and rest’ and we teach with sensory learning. So, I don’t have to communicate verbally to a young child. I teach with touch,” Cloutman said.

It’s a hands-on approach with a heavy impact. And a purpose that’s close to Cloutman's heart.

“Before I was an ISR instructor, first I was a parent. A parent of a small toddler who fell into our hot tub and she didn’t do anything to save herself and she didn’t do anything to save herself and it scared me," she said. "So, I immediately looked into ISR lessons."

"I became an instructor because I believe in it,” Cloutman said

The parents taking ISR lessons with Cloutman say they’ve seen the results firsthand.  

Angela Odlum is a first-time mom with one young child in lessons. “It was kinda scary trying to watch her work through it and work through the skills Mrs. Christie had taught her how to flip. But other than that it was a really great process for us," she told 5 On Your Side.

Megan Macheca has three young boys in lessons. “I got them involved because I had so many kids so close in age and I wanted to make sure that they all are able to swim on their own and be safe," she said. 

Cloutman said when it comes to kids and water, parents need to create layers of protection. "The first layer and the most important layer is adult supervision. Never leave your child unattended around the water. Create that respect for water and that for kids, you don’t get in unless Mom and Dad or another adult get in with you," she said. 

Christie Cloutman said there are other forms of protection that parents can implement for their kids. 

Most childhood drownings happen in backyard pools. 

Pool fences with self-latching locks, door and pool alarms, and swim safety lessons could be ways to save your child’s life. 

To find a Certified ISR Instructor in your area, visit: www.infantswim.com

Connect with Christie Cloutman here: www.ISRSTL.com

The CAST Water Safety Foundation is a great resource for parents wanting to know more about safe water practices: www.castwatersafety.org