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'Drowning can be silent,' say advocates working for water safety awareness

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The Lowcountry is surrounded by water. It's refreshing but potentially deadly. That's why many say it is so important for children especially to learn how to swim.

State Rep. Wendell Gilliard has been working to get the month of May declared "Water Safety Month."

Gilliard has been a proponent of water safety for years. He says the bill will help bring awareness and just in time with summer right around the corner.

"From the year 2001 to 2010 there's been 223 individuals that have actually drowned in the state of South Carolina," Gilliard said.

He says even one life lost is too many.

"Every month of May will be known as water safety month the state of South Carolina," Gilliard said.

Brian Cubbage at Kids First Swim School says the younger kids start learning to swim the better. They start teaching babies the basic techniques of swimming.

"It's very important here in the Charleston area we have the oceans the rivers and we have so many pools that children at a young age get into swim lessons," Cubbage said.

Cubbage says it only takes one lesson to potentially save a life.

"What happens is they become familiar with the water they understand the dangers of the water but just by taking some sort of organized swim lessons it makes 80 percent less likely to drown," Cubbage said.

But what if a child is struggling in the water? What are some of the signs?

"Drowning can be silent. You don't hear it. It's not like the movies. What you're going to see if momentum going forward stops they're going to go from being horizontal to vertical, and they're going to go into short choppy movements," Cubbage said.

He also says if you haven't mastered the techniques, it's important to learn how to float.

Cubbage says it is best to enroll children into lessons for 8 months to a year.

Gilliard says he hopes to eventually make water safety part of the curriculum in Charleston schools.

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