ISR: Babies taught self-rescue water survival - New York News

ISR: Babies taught self-rescue water survival

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Most parents have fears about their children being near water, but what if your child could learn how to save themselves, no matter how young they are? Now, there's a program where kids--even babies--learn to save themselves from drowning.

The video is shocking to watch. A baby, barely old enough to walk, wanders to the edge of a pool without the parents knowing after their dog pushes open a patio door. What happens next has grabbed the attention of millions of moms and dads.

The baby, who is unable to swim, suddenly floats to the surface, turns on his back and cries until help arrives!

At the Midtown Spa and Fitness Club at the Hyatt Lodge in Oakbrook, babies who are barely old enough to talk and walk are learning to save themselves in water emergencies.

Dawn Russo places a 7-month-old baby under water while anxious parents await the results. The baby will be under water for 5 seconds before the instructor pulls her back up to the surface. This drill will be repeated over and over again for six weeks.

"We start at about 6 months old. And we teach all the way up to about 6 years old," Russo says. "At 6 months, their developmentally ready to learn these lifesaving skills that could save them if they were to fall into the water or found."

Like many parents, Kate Martens wanted to teach her child to swim as soon as possible. For her, it became even more of a priority after a very scary situation involving her toddler.

"We have a lake house in Wisconsin. We had an incident one time where my little one got outside when we were not looking. He had gotten out and walked down to the pier without us seeing it. And it was such a fearful event in our life that I thought no matter how much money or anything I will teach him the skills that he needs to save himself," Marten says.

21 children drowned in Illinois last year. 10 of those children drowned in swimming pools. According to the Department of Children and Family Services, drowning is the 3rd leading cause of death for children in our state.

"When they hear ISR, they say is that the program where they throw your child in the water?" Brandy Aiello says.

At Infant Swimming Resource (ISR), there are no spectacular dives or dramatic tosses into the pool. In fact, instructors teach babies aquatic problem solving--not to think about what to do, but to just do it!

"With the little ones I take them into the water and I'm placing them on their back first," Russo explains. "Just kinda of showing them this where you need to be. That's your safe point. Then after that a couple times we do that, I teach how to hold their breath. So they are going under water and coming onto their backs, to that floating position. "

The children practice over and over again turning over in the water wearing full winter gear--- even shoes!

In just six weeks, the babies will all be able to turn onto their backs to get air, no matter how they enter the water.

It took just two weeks for Kathleen Swanson's 15-month old son, Ben, to catch on.

"He seems to love the water," says Swanson. "I can tell that he realizes that he has to do the work and but as soon as he's in the water you can tell. After just after a week of time he's swimming to the edge of the pool, he's reaching out. He's rolling or on the back whatever she needs him to do he does it. And he gets to where he needs to be. That's the ultimate goal. The safety of the side."

What is incredible about this program is kids even as young as 6 months old are learning these lifesaving techniques. If they can roll over on their own, they can learn how to get out of a pool, a pond, a lake, or any body of water alive.

"In swim lessons actually go figure and the swim teacher took her eyes from him a minute and I saw him use his ISR skills to save himself," Kate Martens says. "It was amazing. All of a sudden he was at the edge of the pool the teacher was looking the other way. And I looked up. He had flipped over and saved himself. That is how I know that ISR works and that is why I will have all of my children do ISR because I have seen it in real life actually save my little guy. So it's kinda of cool."

Some of the parents say they do the program because of a 'close call.' Others say it gives them peace of mind to know that when their children are near water, they can deal with an emergency situation.

"You always hear about the stories that it just took a moment. It was accident that just took a moment," Kathleen Swanson says. "And if you don't want to be a parent that has to say those words. And you have small child. And you're around water ever. It's worth the time, the effort, and the money to give your child these lifesaving skills."

For more information on ISR and classes near you, click here.

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