Amid lifeguard shortage, renewed focus on pool safety for children as summer arrives

Hammett, California – It happened in a matter of seconds. Security video shows 18-month-old Cole Pettitte flashing his life preserver.

He then walked into the family pool in Winchester, California and slipped under the water’s surface.

“Like a bag of bricks, just straight down,” her father, Zachary Pettitte, told CBS News.

Petit was just feet away, applying sunblock to his daughter. He made a dive for his son and saved him from the water.

“I think I acted in any way that any normal parent would have reacted,” Pettitte said.

As a firefighter in nearby Hemet — about 80 miles east of downtown Los Angeles — Petit has responded to drownings before. So at home, he has a pool fence and motion detectors.

“If I went in, ‘Hey, I’m going to grab a quick drink, I’m going to use the restroom.’ You know, whether we’re planning a funeral or not, it could have been a little bit of a time difference,” Pettitte said.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 4,000 deaths occur annually in the United States from unintentional drowning. The CDC says it’s one of the top killers of children ages 1 to 4, with most drownings occurring in home swimming pools.

The American Lifeguard Association (ALA) reports that half of the nation’s 309,000 public pools may be forced to close or reduce their hours. Lack of life guard.

“They have nowhere to go and they’re going to start looking for lakes, ponds, levees, waterways, canals,” said ALA spokesman Wyatt Wernath. “There are no lifeguards, and we will see more drownings as a result.”

Pettit and Hammett Fire Departments Posted Home security camera video to the rescue on social media in hopes of educating parents about water safety.

“I think if it ends up being one parent, one parent, pay a little more attention, and save one child from drowning, then our message has been successful,” Pettitte said.

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