Drowning Is The Leading Cause Of Accidental Death For Young Children – Jessica Is Here To Prevent This

  • Published on:
    September 6, 2019
  • Reading time by:
    8 minutes

Drowning is fast, silent, and can happen even when is not swim time. It’s the #1 KILLER of children ages 1-4. How can this be?! It’s because we have let our guards down and unfortunately our access to education and information on this topic is not ever made a point of discussion during our well-child visits to the pediatrician, we see only limited media coverage for a max of 6-8 weeks out of the year and our view of water and swimming as a society is beyond outdated. It happens to real families, families with good, attentive parents who never thought it could happen to them. There are ways to keep it from happening to your child, Jessica Box will tell you more about this today.

Jessica Box is a single mother to 3 daughters in Temecula, Ca and she has made it her life’s mission to teach as many children as possible the skills to save their own lives in the event that they ever found themselves alone in a body of water. Jessica is a Certified Survival Instructor and the Owner of SoCal Survival Swimming, LLC and the founder of the nonprofit organization, “One Baby at a Time Foundation”. 

In a short amount of time, Jessica has established a successful business in her community and it is growing by the day. Although most of her clients find her via word of mouth she has had several amazing opportunities to be featured on the national media speaking about her mission on Drowning prevention and access to Survival Swimming. She is also working very closely with the American Academy of Pediatrics to ensure pediatricians are educating local families on the real dangers and Prevention of Drowning. 

What inspired you to start teaching as many children as possible the skills to save their own lives?

My own life motivated me to dive into the world of survival swim instruction. When I had my first daughter, Simone, I suddenly realized that I couldn’t be there at every moment watching over her shoulder. As a single mom, I needed to rely on my mom and grandma to help with childcare. And since they all have pools it was imperative that my daughter knew how to swim. 

I was familiar with the survival swimming method thanks to my aunt, who is also an instructor, and decided to enroll my then 1-year-old in the program. The problem? At the time the closest instructor lived 50 miles away. Still, we committed to the program and made the long drive day-in and day-out for the 10-minute classes. By the time the six weeks were up, my daughter had mastered the swim-float-swim technique and I was sold. 

I packed up my family and we temporarily relocated to Boulder, Colorado where I began and completed my training at the Infant Aquatics headquarters. 

Tell us what do you do as the owner of SoCal Survival Swimming, LLC?

My students probably think I’m actually a mermaid since most of them never see me out of the water! But seriously, that is the crux of my day: my desk is a pool. I founded Temecula-based SoCal Survival Swimming immediately after completing the training in Boulder so that there was a local option for parents. My typical day involves dropping off my girls (I now have three young daughters), heading to the pool, donning my wet suit and visor and jumping in the warm water. 

I offer different programs: the infant survival float program and the swim-float-swim program for children of walking age and older. We now also have fun group classes and I recently hired an amazing instructor for advanced strokes. 

In addition to actually teaching the classes, I also have to run the business side of SoCal Survival Swimming. This entails networking, organizing schedules and contacting parents. The majority of my students are referrals so I also spend a large chunk of my day talking to parents of prospective students and educating them about this life-saving program. 

Tell us about what you’re working on now.

Did you know that when parents visit their pediatrician for their baby’s first well-visit, the only reference to drowning prevention they receive is a one-liner about water safety? That’s it! Even though drowning remains the leading cause of death among children between the ages of 1 to 4 that’s all the education we receive.  

I’m passionate about changing this, which is why I’m so excited to share that I recently founded the One Baby At A Time Foundation, in collaboration with Dr. Jamie Friedman, our advocate with the American Academy of Pediatrics and Dan Caulfield, founder of the well-known Helmets to Hardhats nonprofit. The goal of our nonprofit is to serve as a drowning prevention educational resource, providing advice, access to local instructors, a rating system for instructors and a place for client reviews. 

Share a story about how you have saved someone’s life thanks to your lessons as an instructor.

I have so many incredible stories of my students saving themselves after completing this program. One recent incident that comes to mind involved a 2-year-old boy named Andrew. It was Sunday morning and he was at his grandparent’s house while his Dad helped them fix some pool equipment. 

While his Dad was around the corner of the house, Andrew was playing with a dump truck, trying to make mud to add to the back of the toy. Needing some water for his mud-making enterprise, the little boy reached into the water and the weight of the truck caused him to fall in headfirst.

Nobody heard a sound there wasn’t a splash, a scream or anything. Later, his Dad and grandparents found Andrew floating peacefully in the pool, they have no idea how long he was in there floating. He had used the swim-float-swim method I teach and was completely unharmed. 

Thank God he was found alive and safe because his parents had made sure he knew how to swim. 

What’s your advice to our followers who have small children on how to become more aware of child drownings?

First, if you have a pool and your children are not yet water safe, make sure the pool is enclosed. Second, always make sure young children are supervised by an adult when near any body of water. I recommend that parents assign one adult as the “lifeguard” by giving that individual a whistle to wear. Then when they leave the pool area, they hand the whistle over. And of course, make sure children learn the swim-float-swim method as early as possible. Babies as young as 6 months can enroll in my classes. 

What are some hurdles an aspiring business owner might not be aware of?

You never (really) get a day off that’s the main difference between owning your own business and working for someone else. Although I’m passionate about my work, I’m human and get tired and worn out. And the truth is, as a business owner you should focus on your strengths. Identify what you excel at and what you enjoy. Be truthful about your weaknesses or the tasks that you simply don’t have time to take on. Then, once you have the budget to do so, hire great individuals. 

Please share some tips that help your clients every day.

The first thing I tell my clients when their children start the program is to “throw away the floaties.” I get it. We put these on our children because we’re good parents but they actually provide a false sense of security and are extremely dangerous.  

What is a skill you think all women should learn and why?

I don’t know if it’s necessarily a skill women learn but something we are innately adept at is multi-tasking. As a single mother of three young girls, I have to multitask just to get through the day. Yet, I know that multitasking can also be detrimental to our careers and home lives and even dangerous. If more of us learned to turn off this natural inclination, and to genuinely focus on one task at a time, we could all be more successful, happy and healthy women.  

What has been your key (or keys) to success?

Passion and hard work. Literally. I am truly passionate about drowning prevention and the value of the swim-float-swim method. And the close-knit community of Temecula has helped me tremendously. I work long hours, in and out of the pool, and having happy parents spread the word about my business has helped me grow quickly. 

What has been your greatest accomplishment so far? 

Helping to prevent drownings and teach children to swim has definitely been my greatest accomplishment. When I hear stories from my clients about their children saving themselves, I know that I have chosen the right path in life. 

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