The arrival of summer means spending time at the beach or lounging by the pool with family and friends. For most people, these things sound relaxing and harmless. But for parents with young children, they can pose serious risks. One father recently learned just how real a danger water can be, leading him to share a warning about pool safety with fellow parents. Last week, Albert Passavanti posted a now-viral Facebook video of him leaping over a fence to save his son from drowning, and it's a jarring and poignant reminder that everything could change in a split second.
Passavanti was spending a Sunday afternoon around the pool with family, according to WPTV, when his 1-and-a-half-year-old son Rocco wandered through an open pool gate. As you can see in the video shared on Facebook, which has more than 451,000 views, the young boy was trying to reach an inflatable ball when he fell into the water. Passavanti, who was sitting in the shade with Rocco's uncle, immediately sprung into action.
Video from the scary incident shows Passavanti diving over a 4-foot fence into the water to rescue his son. "It didn't even cross my mind to go around, it was point A to point B," he told WPTV.
After the incident, Passavanti is spreading awareness about pool safety so other parents never have to experience the terror he felt in that moment. He noted on Facebook, "baby gates only work when you close them."
Passavanti's wife, Dawn Passavanti, admitted that she was anxious about sharing the video at first. She told TODAY Parents she feared others would judge them or accuse them of not being alert enough near the pool. But, Dawn and Albert ultimately wanted other parents out there to understand that this could happen to them. "We knew we were putting ourselves out there for judgement," she told TODAY Parents. "But we wanted to show how accidents can happen in a split second."
The responses to the video have, for the most part, been very kind, though.
"Omg I can't stop watching this video! Nice dive dad!" one commenter said on Facebook.
"Gives me chills! Great job Dad!" another wrote.
"He like LEAPED over! Hero!" a third commented.
"True love is self-sacrifice, you have shown the world what that looks like....," another wrote in the comments.
Drowning accidents among children aren't a rare occurrence, unfortunately. In fact, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that children between the ages of 1 and 4 years old have the highest drowning rates, most of which happen while swimming in pools at home. The CDC added that drowning accounted for one-third of all deaths of kids in that age range who died of unintentional injury.
There are, of course, measures you can take to avoid unintentional drowning. The American Red Cross recommends putting up gates around pools that are at least 4-feet high. Those gates should have "a self-closing, self-latching gate." When not in use, The American Red Cross suggests all pools and hot tubs be covered with a safety cover, and ladders or steps be removed. Another step the organization suggests is "installing a pool alarm that goes off if anyone enters the pool."
These measures are great, but do not ensure that drowning will not occur. Levi's Legacy founder Nicole Hughes — who lost her son Levi to a drowning incident — recommends that all parents enroll their children in swim lessons, but noted that survival swim lessons are key. "If your child can 'swim' but only WITH a flotation device, that is not swimming," she wrote in a Facebook post in April. "If your precious 3 year old somehow found his way to the deep end, could he survive?"
Hughes post continued, "ALL SWIM LESSONS ARE NOT CREATED EQUALLY. Swimming is not in the same category as soccer and dance. Drowning is the #1 cause of death for ages 1-4; many in that age group cannot swim. These two factors have to be connected."
Spending time by the water is meant to be relaxing, and with the right precautions in place, it can be. As families head into summertime fun, keep this heroic dad's video in the back of your mind.