SAN ANTONIO – In Texas so far this year, 51 children under the age of 14 have drowned, according to the Miss Tristan Foundation.
The nonprofit works with our KSAT community partners University Health System to keep parents informed on how to prevent children from drowning.
We spoke with the founder of the Miss Tristan Foundation, Joe Byrd, who started the water safety nonprofit after his 2-year-old daughter Tristan drowned in the family’s home pool in 2016.
He says his daughter died in just a few minutes after a door was left open at his home. Her death devastated his family, he said.
If you have a home pool, it’s crucial to have some type of barrier around it and to put alarms on all the doors at the home to alert you if a child gets out, he said.
“(Like) pool barriers, there are different fences,” Byrd said. “Some people promote one fence as opposed to another. I’m just a pool barrier guy. There are nets you can put over the pool. Have your child at the earliest possible age get some survival swim lessons.”
Even at a community pool or a pool party where there are 100 people with multiple lifeguards, drownings have occurred. It’s why Byrd urges you to be a water watcher when your child is in the water.
“Put down your wine,” Byrd said. “Put down your beer, your adult beverage, and be the lifeguard on duty. Put down your book, your cell phone. Don’t be texting. Don’t be talking.”
“And especially with a small child, be within arms reach.”
He says to use Coast Guard-approved life jackets for young children who are not strong swimmers. He advises not to use puddle jumpers or floaties.
Most importantly, he says, know CPR, because it can save a child’s life.