MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — The leading cause of accidental death in children ages one to four in the United States is drowning. Drowning is preventable. In order to prevent it, we have to think about layers of protection for our kids, including ‘ISR’–Infant Swimming Resource ‘Self-Rescue.’

Living on the Gulf Coast, water is a part of life. We’re surrounded by it. So learning how to swim early on is so important. Although it may be a little uncomfortable at first, children who start swim lessons when they’re babies are learning something they’ll never forget; something that could save their life.

“It’s mind-blowing. “He can flip over and float and stay in his float until someone grabs him,” said Sara Rogers.

Rogers’ son, Crain, is 15-months-old, but ISR instructor Lauren Bergoon says kids can start self-rescue as young as 6-months-old!

She said, “As they start kind of moving around and getting to where they’re mobile and they can get out the door or get away from you quickly is a great time to start thinking about self-rescue.”

That’s because a child under 30 pounds can drown within 30 seconds.

Instructor Jill Phillips knows how quickly 30 seconds go by all too well. She had her own frightening experience at a waterpark.

“All the dads were taking the children down the waterslide and I was waiting for everyone to come down. And our son Nolan never came down,” said Phillips. “The lifeguards blew the whistle. They had to get everyone out of the water searching for my son, And it was terrifying.”

Thankfully, Jill’s son wasn’t in the water. He was in a nearby restroom.

“I was there keeping my eye on him, and it still happened,” said Phillips.

Getting an infant to float is the first step, and it takes time.

“Lessons are very slow. Our number one priority is breath control. As we work with them, we ensure that they have that before we move on to roll back. We are conveying to them that when your mouth is out of the water, that’s where you’re going to get your air,” Phillips said.

Jill says every step of the process is a mix of sensory-motor learning, and Pavlov’s theory.

“We work with the water levels on their face. They understand that as that water level goes up, that means the water is coming, that I need to close my mouth. We give cues under the water and a nine-month-old baby would recognize that,” she said.

That process also takes trust.

“Part of what we’re doing is setting up a bond and a trust between ourselves and the students. And we’re controlling the environment so that each day and each little step that they go, that they become more and more confident, not only in the fact that we’re going to keep them safe, but also in their own ability to help themselves on the water,” said Bergoon.

As kids get older, lessons get more complex.

“She was very nervous at first, as any kid would be doing some lessons. But now she can swim to the edge, swim to a person. She can float for a significant amount of time in case she had gotten in the water without us. And it’s really just astounding to see,” Emily Bozeman told Cherish Lombard about her daughter, Ella.

Bozeman and other mothers we talked to said they find survival swimming lessons invaluable.

“To have that security, to know that every child was able to self-rescue, if they were to fall in the water I really feel like you can’t put a price on that,” said Heather Walther.

Because 30 seconds fly by before you know it.

Lauren and Jill are both certified ISR instructors, and while they do not recommend trying the techniques they use at home, there are a few things they say you should and shouldn’t do.

They do not recommend using puddle-jumpers and other floatation devices in and around your pool because they say those things give kids a false sense of security. Make sure you have a fence with a self-latching gate around your pool with an alarm that will sound if your child opens that gate.

They also say to repeatedly tell your children not to go into the water without an adult, and back that up by being with your children every time they’re in the water, and work with them. Also, learn CPR.

To learn more about enrolling your child in swim lessons, as well as financial assistance, visit: https://www.infantswim.com/