A local mother is sharing the story of her's son's tragic death, in hopes of saving other children.
Five-year-old Nicholas Norman of Rolando drowned in a neighbor's backyard pool. Carol Norman is now working to keep other kids from experiencing the same fate.
"As a parent losing a child, it is a nightmare," Carol Norman told News 8, speaking in front of the pool at the Hyatt Regency Mission Bay, where the 11th Annual National Drowning Prevention Symposium is currently underway.
On Father's Day 2010, five-year-old Nicholas Norman wandered off from his Rolando home and over to a neighbor's house, where he and a playmate went swimming - alone and unsupervised - in the backyard pool.
"The two little kids, they were 5 years old, somehow got into the backyard," Norman said, "and Nicky drowned within 10 to 15 minutes," she added. "It's been a struggle to get to where I am today."
Today, Norman is an outspoken advocate for water safety, turning her heartbreak into help for others. "I would not want any one to go through any of this," she said. Drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death for school-age kids, according to the CDC and the number one cause for preschoolers.
"It's a tremendous problem worldwide, and it's a preventable problem," said Johnny Johnson of the National Drowning Prevention Alliance.
At the organization's conference underway in Mission Bay, the emphasis is on recognizing the risks of drowning and reducing them. Some experts say it's as basic as "A-B-C": always providing Adult supervision when kids are near water; placing Barriers around pools to prevent curious kids from swimming unattended; and taking Classes, including swim lessons for youngsters and CPR for adults.
According to theCDC, taking formal swimming lessons reduces the risk of drowning by pre-schoolers by 88 percent.
But Johnson recognizes no parent or guardian can be completely vigilant around-the-clock. "You need some backup," he said.
"Layers of protection." There are some high-tech tools available offering that back-up, like the "Safety Turtle," a device worn by your child that instantly sounds an alarm when immersed in water. (For more information, go to www.safetyturtle.com)
In the meantime, Carol Norman says she will continue sounding the alarm, about the dangers of drowning. "If I had known what I know now, maybe Nicky would be here today," she said.
The Drowning Prevention Conference at the Hyatt Regency Mission Bay will continue through Saturday. For more information, go to http://ndpa.org/home/
The city of Chula Vista is also offering a Water Safety Festival on Saturday, March 10 from 10am to 12:15pm, including free swimming lessons for kids, as well as CPR presentations. It will be held at the Parkway Family Aquatic Center at 385 Park Way. For more information, call (619) 691-5088.