BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — As temperatures around the county begin to soar this Memorial Day Weekend, many of us will no doubt head to the water for some relief. On Highway 178, the Kern County Sheriff’s Office updated a sign showing eight people died in the Kern River river last year. Meanwhile, swimming pools present their own set of dangers.
One local family got a startling water safety reminder when their two-year-old disappeared. It was a beautiful spring day when Kern resident Mark Woodward planted ferns near his backyard pool with his grandson Madden. That changed when Woodward turned around, and the toddler was nowhere to be seen.
“Instinctively I looked in the pool and didn’t see him,” said Woodward. “I looked in the spa and he was in the bottom, motionless.”
Woodward knew he had to act fast, grabbing Madden from the hot tub and dialing 9-1-1. Water had already gotten into the toddler’s lungs.
“I was pushing on his back, water was coming out, and I could hear air going back into his lungs,” said Woodward. “I just yelled at him to ‘fight, fight, fight,’ and he did.”
Madden’s grandmother Robin rushed home the moment she found out, and first responders said Madden was okay. She says preparation saved the toddler’s life.
“I think most importantly CPR, knowing CPR,” said Woodward. “Because the chest compressions Mark administered to Madden probably saved his life.”
Experts say you should install fences around your pool and put locks on doors leading to your backyard. Placing children in swim lessons and learning CPR can ensure further safety. Most importantly, always watch children near water.
“You have to be out there, you have to be right in front of them,” said Woodward. “And even then, right in front of them, sometimes some things happen. Accidents happen.”
The family says the scary experience didn’t dampen the 2-year-old’s spirit. Meantime the sheriff’s office updated a sign showing the number of lives lost to the Kern River since 1968. First responders say you should call 9-1-1 if you see someone fall in.
“Try and keep an eye on them, that way when we arrive on scene we know where they went,” said Sgt. Kevin Kimmel, Search and Rescue Coordinator for the Kern County Sheriff’s Office. “Don’t jump in the river after them.”
While the Kern River can extremely attractive on a hot summer day, the rule of thumb to follow is to, “stay out and stay alive.” For a list of Memorial Day Weekend events, click here.