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“Just like driving a car, you should eventually learn how to swim:” Red Cross launches “Anti-Drowning Campaign”

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Two drownings in two days this weekend -- and nearly a third. The first occurred Friday evening, July 18th. 45-year-old David Schmitter's body was pulled from a private pond on his property in the Village of Summit. On Saturday, July 19th, a 14-year-old boy was pulled from the Menomonee River in Hoyt Park in Wauwatosa. He later died. Officials in Cedarburg are crediting a lifeguard's quick thinking in saving the life of a four-year-old boy -- pulled from a pool on Friday. As summer continues, with people spending time near the water, the American Red Cross has launched an "Anti-Drowning Campaign."

If the sun is cooperating and the sand is welcoming, chances are a dip into the lake, pond or river isn't far behind -- but the refreshing blanket of water so many are used to wrapping themselves in can also be used to smother the life out of a swimmer.

"You never know when you might need to swim," a lifeguard told FOX6 News.

"We can prevent many drownings. In fact, 10 people drown every day, and most of these are kids," Barbara Behling with the American Red Cross said.

Behling advises folks to see if they can pass a "Five Point Test."

  • Can you swim 25 yards without stopping?
  • Can you comfortably go into water over your head?
  • Can you tread water for at least a minute?
  • Can you get out of the water without using a ladder?
  • Can you do a somersault below the surface without becoming disoriented?

Behling says surprisingly, less than half of Americans can pass that test.

"Don't swim alone. Always have someone with you," the lifeguard said.

"Stay alert. Stay off your cell phone, and truly pay attention," Behling said.

Another factor to consider is where you're swimming. Lakes and rivers, for example, can have strong currents or difficult conditions.

"You can't tell when it gets deeper and when it doesn't. In a lake, you can have rocks. You can have undercurrents," Behling said.

"I've saved a few, on and off duty," the lifeguard said.

Not every place will have professional lifeguards watching, so the advice is to know what you're capable of, know the conditions and know someone's watching nearby.

"Just like driving a car, you should eventually learn how to swim," the lifeguard said.

CLICK HERE to learn more about the American Red Cross' Anti-Drowning Campaign.

CLICK HERE to download the American Red Cross' Swim App.

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