During each episode of Child Safety Source, we speak with an expert who struggles to keep children safe. Kari Bahour became a water safety and drowning prevention advocate after her 16-month-old son experienced a non-fatal drowning incident at a friend’s pool 19 years ago. Despite the proper pool barriers and three adults present in the home, her infant son managed to briefly escape. He ended up floating face down, unconscious in an ice-cold swimming pool.
Thankfully, Kari’s son survived the ordeal without complications. However, this incident lit a fire in Kari Bahour. She fully understood how her son’s situation could have ended in tragedy.
After doing her own research on swim programs, Kari enrolled her son in a six-week Infant Swimming Resource (ISR) program. Amazed at the aquatic problem-solving skills her son learned, she passionately pursued her new role as a survival swim instructor to provide more children with these essential lifesaving skills. Now, Kari is an active member of the Hillsborough County Water Safety Team, the National Drowning Prevention Alliance, Safe Kids Greater Tampa Bay and the U.S. Swim School Association.
Today, Kari Bahour is sharing her journey with Life Saver Pool Fence’s president, Eric Lupton. In the video below, she describes her experience as an ISR instructor. Additionally, we’ll learn about her nonprofit organization, Water Smart Tots, Inc.
Learn more about Kari Bahour in this full video interview:
Water Smart Tots
As discussed in the video, Kari wanted to give back to her community. In 2014, she founded a nonprofit organization called Water Smart Tots. This nonprofit is dedicated to eliminating early childhood drowning in Hillsborough County.
According to the official website, the keys to this mission are education and access. Water Smart Tots promotes awareness through water safety education. It also provides access to survival swimming skills to children aged one through six. Many of these students are financially underprivileged or have special needs. The organization provides survival swim instruction free of charge to those who qualify.
To learn more about Water Smart Tots, please visit www.WaterSmartTots.org.
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Below is a direct transcript of the Child Safety Source interview with Kari Bahour from September 17th, 2018:
Episode 40 – Kari Bahour
Eric Lupton: We are live on the internet, it’s like magic. I’m not sure what changed from a second ago to right now, but now people can see us.
Kari Bahour: Okay, well great.
Eric: How is it going again?
Kari: It’s going wonderful, thanks. This is my first podcast live social media anything, so I’m excited.
Eric: Well, just congratulations.
Kari: Thank you.
Eric: I think you might be, I think you might be the second one that we’ve got outside.
Kari: I think of the lighting might be a little bit better outside.
Eric: The lighting is much better outside. In fact, I’m thinking I should do it outside now, because that’s kind of cool. And you’ve got the pole in the background, which is kind of neat, you know.
Kari: It’s my office.
Eric: That’s exactly… you don’t have a fence but I’ll forgive you for that.
Kari: I have a six foot fence.
Eric: Okay, very good.
Kari: It’s very [inaudible 00:00:54].
Eric: Awesome. I mean, a pool fence what I consider a fence is very different from what other people [inaudible 00:01:00].
Kari: Yes, I understand.
Eric: [inaudible 00:01:02] poles, you know, they build it with concrete. So, you were just saying you won life saver of the year this year.
Kari: Yes, I won life saver of the year award through the N.D.P.A.
Eric: From the National Drowning Prevention Alliance?
Kari: Absolutely, this wonderful honor.
Eric: Yeah, it’s a cool thing and I was saying I was nominated for that one year. And I mostly wanted to win, because I have a company called Life Saver and I thought that it just made sense that I should win the Life saver award. So, what do you think prompted people to think you should win that award?
Kari: Well, I’ve been a drowning prevention advocate for eighteen years now in the Tampa Bay area. I’ve done a lot of things from, I’ve ran a self- rescue swim lessons school as well for eighteen years now. Four years ago I started a nonprofit organization called Water Smart tots and we provide Water Safety Education to the community as well as provide scholarships for financially underprivileged children and children with disabilities to receive one on one survival swim lessons.
Eric: Very cool.
Kari: It’s a wonderful organization beyond what I’ve expected, through so many people embracing the concept and it’s taken off. We’ve educated over… every year, we educate, we go to preschools we do preschool presentations for water safety, it’s a very interactive, fun little twenty minute presentation on water safety, which is complementary of course. And we’ve given about over forty thousand dollars’ worth of survival swim lessons scholarships just benefited well over three hundred kids in our four years of existence.
Eric: That’s really cool.
Kari: So, we’re very proud of that.
Eric: Do you teach them all yourself?
Kari: No, no, we partner with nine instructors now, I think we’re up to about nine instructors. We initially started exclusively to Hillsborough County, within Hillsborough County, but through lots of publicity and media, the awareness of our existence pretty much spread out and we’ve had requests to go into Palace County, we’ve had Manatee, Sarasota, Bradenton, we pretty much are in about four counties now throughout Tampa Bay area. And we’ve partnered with instructors who specialize in [inaudible 00:03:29] swimming methodology. They basically have agreed to a slightly reduced rate from their regular rate and once families, when students qualify for a scholarship, once that’s through the screening procedures they choose the instructor that’s closest to them and they enroll with that instructor. And once they graduate those six weeks program the instructor sends us an invoice and water smart tots pays for their lessons.
Eric: That’s awesome. How does someone qualify?
Kari: If they are on Medicaid or some sort of government assistance; food stamps or Medicaid, they receive a hundred percent FREE swim lessons and they’re valued at an average of five hundred dollars. If they don’t receive public assistance and they have a disability, they receive a fifty percent scholarship just help to offset the costs of like the therapy and other things of special needs kids have to continuously go through. So, just kind of help offset that cost for them, but if they have Medicaid…
Eric: I wouldn’t do anything about that.
Kari: Right. And also the one on one attention for children with special needs, I mean, it’s very difficult for them to really progress through a group setting organization. Their individual needs have to be met, so that’s why we’ve included that into our scholarship requirements.
Eric: Well, it’s cool and it makes sense. You know, I know that I can actually walk in the water, you know, I can’t walk on land, but in the pool I can walk, which is kind of cool.
Kari: Oh, [inaudible 00:05:10].
Eric: I haven’t done it in a long time, but when I was [inaudible 00:05:13] I could. And I used to be able to swim decent, but not great, but you know, water I think is a cool thing, especially any kind of physical [inaudible 00:05:23] and limitations.
Kari: Yeah, well there’s lots of parents come back and tell us their occupational therapy… their therapist would say that they’ve seen improvement with this coordination or that coordination since they’ve started swim lessons. So, it’s kind of like a double benefit to them.
Eric: So, do you, when you have someone with a disability and sorry this is just, happen to be interested in it. But you know, do you just try and get them as far as they can? Do you have goals for what they could you know…?
Kari: Now, everyone has succeeded, I mean, it’s probably taken them a little bit longer, but they’ve all succeeded, they’ve been able to swim for about four to five seconds in a horizontal posture with their head down. When they’re tired and need to breathe, they roll on to their back and float, rest and breathe, when they’re ready, flip back over, continue swimming. So, they’ve progressed through the whole thing. Like I said, it just taken them probably a little bit longer some of them. But they all get there eventually.
Eric: At what ages?
Kari: The scholarship program is for children ages one to six.
Eric: Okay. And is that what age that you mostly teach?
Kari: That’s the age that mostly teacher and most instructors generally teach, pretty much under age four, it’s a little bit older than what most of us teach. But we just figure with that kind of socioeconomic status, they’ve probably not been able to receive lessons earlier at a younger age. So, we want to be able to make sure we target those children.
Eric: And what about that six month to one year gap?
Kari: I personally do, that doesn’t qualify for a scholarship but for my regular business, “watch me swim”, I do treat children as young as six months and they must be able to stay on a system.
Eric: That makes sense.
Kari: And those children just roll and float, they don’t actually swim, they’re not developmentally ready to actually swim, but they just roll and float; hold their breath underwater, rotate onto their back immediately and rest and breathe and wait until help arrives.
Eric: And what scheduled do you do for lessons?
Kari: What do you mean?
Eric: So, is it daily, every…?
Kari: It’s daily. I mean, it’s daily, every day, that’s pretty much all survival swim lessons are structured, they’re one on one lessons, Monday through… some instructors teach Monday through Thursday, some instructors teach Monday through Friday. And it’s about a four to six week program.
Eric: So, about the same as other survival swim campaigns?
Kari: Other what? I’m sorry.
Eric: So, about the same as other survival swim?
Kari: Yeah, They’re basically survival swim, whether it be ISR or swim life or [info aquatics], they’re pretty much all structured the same.
Eric: Are you connected to any of those or are you separate?
Kari: Right now, I am not connected to anybody but for twelve years I was an instructor and then eventually became a master instructor with Infant Swimming Resource. So, I was connected with them for twelve years and I decided I wanted to really focus on Hillsbury county in Tampa Bay Area and just kind of do more locally. And so, I departed from them and pursued other avenues where I can be of assistance and to bring drowning prevention awareness to the community.
Eric: So, you know, going back to you know the beginning, what made you decide you wanted to do this? And how did you go from… you know, most kids when they’re growing up in life they don’t think, you know when I grow up I want to be a swimming survival instructor. Or maybe, it could be.
Kari: A lot of my students now tell me they want to be instructors, there parent just sit in the bathtub, according to the parents.
Eric: That’s really cool.
Kari: Well, I was a paralegal, my career professional was a legal assistant, I did that for many years. And about eighteen or nineteen years ago, my son was sixteen month old and he was found floating face down in a friend’s swimming pool, while I was attending to my infant daughter who was at the time a few months, don’t do the math, but they were less than a year apart. So, the fence door to the pool looked closed, it was a bird cage type setting and I was just supposed to be there for a few minutes to pick up my friend and we were supposed to actually head to the gym, but with an infant baby you got to time the feeding and the diaper change. So, I decided to just take care of all that at her house and the bird cage door looked closed from a distance.
My son wanted to go out they had like a little playroom from the outside and then there was the bird cage to the pool. I told my friend’s son to go ahead and let him out, thinking that I would just be right there as soon as I finished attending to my infant daughter. Within just a few minutes my friend just happens for no reason at all, look out the window and sees my son fully clothed, jacket, shoes; this was in February, face down in the pool, pretty much unconscious and not responding.
And she let out this horrible scream, it’s one of those screams that you know you never want to hear again and you know it’s something really bad. And I paused for a second to see if I could listen, hear my son’s cry and I didn’t, I didn’t hear a thing and that’s actually what scared me the most. And before I was able to get outside I was on the phone with 911, saying that my son drowned. And I just knew it was bad not being able to hear anything. And then my friend was… by the time I was out there, my friend was trying to peel his clothes off, he was not responding, he was unconscious. He was completely blue; at that time, when you’re in shock you think because it’s February the water is super cold, but he was blue because he was cold. We were not processing that he was blue because lack of oxygen. So, we just focused on peeling off his cold wet clothes at the time and I was on the phone with 911 and it just occurred to me that I think my son is really dead. I just fell to the ground, grabbed him, shaked him, screamed at him and for whatever reason the paramedics just had happened to walk in and he start coughing up all this water.
So I don’t know why or how he was saved but he was and we spent twenty- four hours in the emergency room at all children’s hospital just for observation and he was fine, he was fine and just kind of really brought a lot of awareness and it was a rude awakening, so to speak that one, could have very well and it up in tragedy. And two, you kind of go through life thinking…. Keep in mind this was eighteen years ago, so I was a lot younger and more naïve, but you go through life thinking these things happen to other people, these things don’t happen to me. But drowning does not discriminate as we all are seeing more so in the media now with Bode Miller family.
Eric: Yeah and I don’t think you have to be younger to be naive on the topic. You know, I think as a culture we do a pretty poor job of educating people on you know, how dangerous pools are and the water is and you know… If you’re on Facebook you get comments like I do, I’m sure, that says, “you know, I just watch my kids, I don’t need this” you know.
Kari: Yeah, that’s just very ignorant. And I was guilty of that, I was in that position, it was just very ignorant and you know, thank God my son was spared and I was spared and we were given another opportunity. And when I came home from the hospital, I immediately started researching survival swim lessons and I came across infant swimming resource and I immediately enrolled my son. And she had a wait list and I was like, “I’m not waiting, put me in at any time or day or night, I don’t care, I will make it work with my schedule, we need to get these lessons done”.
And so, that’s still going in very doubtful that anybody can learn anything, especially a child in ten minutes. I was very skeptical; again, I was very opinionated, I was like nobody can do that, that’s not true, you know, if children are able to learn such skills at such a young age, why isn’t it well known and nationwide? Why isn’t it like a requirement, honestly? And why don’t pediatrician tell you that? You know, hearing it from so and so is one thing, but when you hear it from a pediatrician that, I think makes it more real, like okay, these kids can truly learn to save themselves. It doesn’t replace supervision, but it’s just an extra layer of protection along with the safety fences and the supervision and the alarms and so forth.
So, yeah, I was amazed what he could learn and from that point on I was just still…I guess, survivor’s guilt so to speak. I continue to hear on the news, you know, so many kids are constantly losing their lives; it feels like constantly here in Florida, losing their lives to drowning and I just went through life thinking “Why was my son spared? I mean, he was literally unconscious and we didn’t even do C.P.R, we just scream and shook him you know”. So, I eventually called the instructor and said, “I want to do what you do” and I went through a training Infant Swimming Resource in ‘2000’ and I’ve been teaching ever since. So, it’s very rewarding.
Eric: You know, you talked about the pediatricians and you know, I feel like I say this three times a week right now, because it seem like it’s coming to the surface. I didn’t hear anything about pediatricians even three, four years ago. But now it seems everybody is kind of locked in on it and it’s good. I don’t know if you saw Kerri Morrison’s survey, which I said I think I’d like to talk about every episode that we do now. Because I was so surprised by it, you know, I couldn’t believe that only fifteen percent of the parents who responded had been warned about the dangers of their backyard pool by their doctors.
It’s amazing to me, right. I mean, I’m sure they talked about swaddling and SIDS, and they made sure the [crosstalk]….
Kari: Car seat safety…
Eric: Yeah. You know, they probably talked about nutrition and vegetables and you know, teething and you know breastfeeding and all these other things that are really important. But only one of them is the number one accidental killer of kids between one and four and that’s the one they don’t talk about, which blows my mind. It really does, I thought we really come further than I guess we have.
So, yeah, I like that there is this kind of groundswell of people realizing, in our community at least that pediatricians are really dropping the ball. And I think that’s going to stop, I really do because I think since we all know it now, and there are a lot of people kind of focusing on reaching… I mean, there’s only so many of them, right, like we could really put them all in a probably a football stadium and talk to them all if you had to. Or even smaller, probably; I don’t know how many pediatricians there are, but you can get them all, we can literally talk to one, one day at a time if you had to.
Kari: Right. And I agree too and that actually made us more aware through my nonprofit organization Water Smart Tots, where I have decided to start also a campaign outreach to reach pediatricians and give them that educational material for water safety. And it’s not just survival swimming, it’s all aspects. We’re creating the water watch or tags, we’re going to include those in the water safety education. But we’re also going to Target O.B. G.Y.Ns and hospital education because the hospitals provide education, whether it be babysitting education, C.P.R. education, prenatal education, we’re hoping to impact the local hospitals here and provide them with information that they can include in their education courses to include water safety and drowning prevention. So, yeah we’re looking forward to getting that started in the fall.
Eric: That’s awesome. So, what’s your plan of attack to reach pediatricians, you kind of just walk in the door and…?
Kari: One by one, we do have a pediatrician on our board through our Water Smart tots, we have Dr. Becky Pruitt, she is a local pediatrician. And we also have many of our physician who’s on the board of directors, and they are part of the founding members of water smart tots. So, it’s a collaborative effort and we’re going to meet in this fall and kind of put together, basically whether it be a water safety bag or a water safety folder that includes a lot of water safety and drowning prevention tips and just again, to promote awareness.
And if survival swimming lessons are for you, that’s fine. I think as an American society today, we have the privilege of having choices and options and you can choose what is right for your child, whether it be the survival swimming or the traditional. But most importantly, bring awareness that it can happen to anybody, it can happen anywhere, whether it be a bathtub, a canal, not just necessarily a backyard swimming pool. And I think it’s important that the organizations, the bigger organizations kind of unite and get on that bandwagon as a whole and support each other because at this point it’s a community responsibility and it’s going to take a community to band together and really, really, eliminate pediatric drowning in the United States.
Eric: No, I think you’re right and I think like you said before, when it comes from a pediatrician, it is [inaudible 00:19:08] a lot more [inaudible 00:19:09] and a little more weight and I think people take it were seriously. Because you expect to be told from your doctor, you know, the things you need to worry about. And you know, I won’t say her name, but I think she’s going to start some kind of non-profit, I think. There was a pediatrician in Orlando whose daughter drowned…
Kari: Oh, no!
Eric: [inaudible 00:19:31] twins, a few months ago. And she’s been really active on Facebook since then and I have a feeling she’ll start something. But, [inaudible 00:19:40] that I am literally a pediatrician and I didn’t know, so if I didn’t know, who would? So, I think her voice will be a powerful part of that.
Kari: Right. I definitely think it’s just as really important, not just with pediatricians but when a mom is pregnant, you get all this mailing and all of this information and all this literature about every single thing you can imagine as it relates, through your pregnancy, but you don’t get any information about water safety and drowning prevention. So, I think it needs to start even well before the child is old enough to see… exists is aware. I think it starts with educating parents before they have babies and then we’re educating them at the pediatricians as well; it’s an ongoing process, it’s not just a one- time education.
Eric: I was talking to somebody on the podcast, now I can’t remember who. But they had an idea that I like a lot, where they were saying that it should happen the first time that nurse gives the baby a bath in the hospital. You know, that first exposure to water, which is kind of a cool magical thing that your babies you know, getting bathe for the first time. And they’re showing you how, essentially. But there should be a little water safety lesson [inaudible 00:20:57] the water.
Kari: Awareness, it can happen. I mean, just a few weeks ago, probably about a month ago now, a twelve month old lost her life to drowning in a bathtub, where a grandmother who’s a nurse at a big hospital here, she left him unattended just for a minute with an older sibling actually, in the bathtub. And then she came back and the infant had drowned. So, it’s not just pool, so yeah, going back to the baths you know, that education needs to be included as well.
Eric: Right. Up to, I think twelve months, it’s more likely to happen in a bathtub, I think.
Kari: Yeah, twelve or thirteen months, I think.
Eric: Yeah and then from you know, a year of Florida’s pools and then after that it becomes open water.
Kari: Open water.
Eric: That tends to be the lines with boys especially.
Kari: And then the ones that happen at pools, are you know, happen as you are well aware, most of them when there’s more than one adult present. So, everybody just assumes the other person is watching and I think the biggest thing too, is that everybody automatically thinks you’re going to hear a child, you know, need help, like if they fall, they cry, if they drop something, you’re alerted. That’s kind of what alerts us to go check it out and with drowning, there is… it’s just silence. So, I think that’s important to kind of bring awareness and I think that in return will make people more diligent to supervise, you know, constant adult supervision because you don’t hear a child calling for help when they’re under water.
Eric: And they couldn’t, even if they wanted to, right?
Kari: Unless they’re floating, exactly, yep. Personally as an instructor, I prefer to have my students when they’re in their float crying or making some sort of noise, than complete silence and I do have kids, I mean, they don’t all cry but when they do cry I actually feel a little bit sense of relief that they can cry and be heard, versus a child just hanging out floating in silence.
Eric: Right. That’s kind of the best pool alarm, right?
Eric: I’d rather hear the kid cry than just kind of chilling back there quietly, in case the float slips or whatever, you know.
Kari: Right, exactly.
Eric: How long can a baby float.
Kari: Once they’re skilled, once they’re skilled, it really doesn’t take a lot of effort to float. It doesn’t mean they’re drowned proof, it doesn’t mean that they’re not going to drown, but it just gives and it’s a hem a chance long enough for somebody to realize that they’re missing and go out and check for them or hear them. So, they’re naturally buoyant, they’re more buoyant than adults, so they can flow without much effort, but you know, you get temperature fatigue [inaudible 00:23:58] sets in and anything else can happen while they’re floating. But I’ve had students float for minutes, but like I said, it’s just long enough you know, hopefully not too long before parents realize that their child is out of sight and go check on them, but it doesn’t take long. But yeah, they’re pretty much buoyant, it’s effortless once they’re in that floating position.
Eric: So, I mean would you… have you ever had a child floating competition?
Kari: I haven’t, but I can put one together and come back with you on that.
Eric: That would be kind of cool for like a fundraiser kind of thing. I was talking to Nate, I can’t pronounce his last name, [inaudible 00:24:44], I think, on Wednesday, it was. And he does a [treadathon], he’s a competitive swimmer, and a swim coach and in Virginia at [Old Dominion] and now he focuses on you know, drowning prevention and water safety, especially on the international stage. And you know, trying to get people into third world countries trained and know how to teach other people how to teach water safety.
And you know, one of the ways he raises money, is he does a treadathon, where he and his swim team tread water and you know, people pay per hour. But, you know, probably like a run, you know.
Eric: That would be kind of cool to have kids floating, because I’m more that curious how long, you know, a two year old can float for if they had to.
Kari: Yeah, but a two year old with have learned the skills to get out of the float and flip over; ultimately you want them to get to safety and get themselves out of the pool. So, the goal is not to let them necessarily stay there and unattended, to get you know, flip over and get themselves [inaudible 00:25:50] and swim to safety. But the children in the group of six months to twelve months are not developmentally ready to do that, so they just roll and float.
Eric: Yeah. [Inaudible 00:26:00] and you’re right, you know, those few minutes are critical. You know, I have people again, on my Facebook who would say well, you know, if I had a pool fence, my kid could you know, grab a chair, [inaudible 00:26:13] the chair over, chair climb on the chair, climb up over the fence. Yeah, probably, you know, eventually. If your kid has a half hour to climb over the pool fence, there might be a bigger problem.
Eric: You know, and what it does offer you just like the bloating, is the most important thing you can have in that scenario, which is more time.
Eric: It’s going to be even more time to get to your kid, because as Morgan, Bode Miller’s wife put it, you know, she keeps thinking about that thirty seconds. That’s all it took.
Kari: Yep. And with my son, I honestly don’t think he was you know, unattended for more than a minute or two, from the time he was let out the door. [Inaudible 00:27:01], it looked closed and from a distance it was just that much, just enough to pry your fingers in there. But yeah, it just took a bit, it just doesn’t take long at all. Yeah.
Eric: You say, he was a little over a year?
Kari: Yeah, he was sixteen months at the time.
Eric: Got you. Okay.
Kari: So, but he’s twenty- one now, almost twenty- two. So, he survived.
Kari: Yeah, he survived, we survived and like I said, I don’t know if it was survivor’s skills as I’m constantly hearing on the news about different children drowning and imagine the parents what they must constantly be going through every day. And I was scared of that and just wanted to make it mean something and kind of devoted my life literally to drowning prevention and water safety. And I wouldn’t change anything, I totally enjoyed being in the field that I’m in and helping families and parents and providing education and saving lives ultimately.
Eric: Yeah, it’s kind of a cool thing. And have you gotten people that have called you and said that they’ve you know, seen their kid use their lessons to save themselves.
Kari: Yes, absolutely, we do. I mean, like I said, most of the time when they do tell us, they’re usually right there barbecuing or something, there’s adults there. And they’ve watched it happen and by the time they you know, gotten feet closer, the child was already on their back or already had turned around to see their side. So, it was almost instant, so yeah, I get it all the time and just makes it all that much more rewarding.
Eric: That is cool. And that’s kind of a neat thing with the lessons as opposed to fences, you know, we never know which kids will have an accident.
Kari: That’s true, that’s true. But I’m sure fences save a lot more lives though, I’m almost positive of that.
Eric: [inaudible 00:28:50] a lot more, but it has to be some, right. I mean, there’s no way…
Kari: It’s got to be quite a few, yeah I just can’t see it not working.
Eric: Right. After thirty years and tens of thousands of fences, you know, there’s got to be kids who have grown up to be twenty-one like your son, who are walking around right now. What’s he doing now?
Kari: He is a junior at Savannah College of Art and Design and he just finished his internship in California. He’s majoring in motion design, so he hopes to go in the movie industry.
Eric: Oh, really cool.
Kari: Actually, he starts the senior year in September. So, it’s going to be his final year of college.
Eric: That’s awesome.
Kari: So, he’s excited. Yeah, yeah. [Crosstalk]. And I wouldn’t have had that opportunity and I don’t know why I still… I don’t know why he was spared, because he was blue, he was unconscious, we didn’t even do C.P.R. We just screamed and shook him around and like I said, he was just given a second chance and thank God he was.
Eric: That’s amazing. And I’m sure your daughter also went through lessons.
Kari: Yep, at that point, when my daughter was nine months I put her through lessons and you know, she’s actually starting her junior year at St. Johns University in Queens New York. So, my kids [inaudible 00:30:08] nest. So, I just have more time now, it’s kind of become my lifestyle. I think for most of us drowning prevention advocates, it’s more than a job, it’s kind of become your lifestyle bringing awareness to prevent drowning.
Eric: Yeah, I mean, it’s pretty much all I do.
Kari: Yeah, I hear you.
Eric: And neither of them were interested about teaching kids how to swim?
Kari: No, no, I will say that I have two daughters, my oldest is twenty- five and my youngest daughter is twenty. Since the Kardashians put a tweet about self- rescue swimming, they might be little bit… [Crosstalk]…now it’s cool, now what mom does, is pretty cool. So, no they…to them, I think they were raised on it and a lot of people ask them, you know, isn’t that cool to see that? Isn’t that cool what your mom does? And they’re like, oh if you say. It’s like they don’t know any other way, they’ve never… it’s like a normal thing to them. But no, they’ve chosen not to go in that path and I tried encouraging them, but they’re like, why? You’re doing enough as is, let’s just go find a different path. I’m like, okay.
Eric: You know, I forget I don’t know them very well, but whichever one is the mom, I think they’re all moms at this point. But he first mom… I forget which [inaudible 00:31:25] the first one was. I don’t know…
Kari: [inaudible 00:31:30], they’ll tell you every single fact about them.
Eric: But she has one of our fences.
Kari: Oh, good.
Eric: I’ve seen it in pictures, like in their backyard…
Kari: Oh, nice.
Eric: And then I called my dealer out in L.A, like you [inaudible 00:31:42] Kardashians? Oh, yeah, we did [inaudible 00:31:45].
Kari: Awesome. Yeah, very good.
Eric: Nice job lady, way to go.
Kari: Good job. Yeah, it’s pretty neat. It’s pretty neat when you have celebrities kind of on the bandwagon and taking those safety precautions as they should.
Eric: You know, we’ve had had a bunch, you know, John Travolta, Sandra Bullock, Tom Cruz, Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony, both their houses in Miami and [inaudible 00:32:11]. Yeah, there’s been a slew of them, you know. [Inaudible 00:32:14] McGuire.
Kari: We’ve connected with your dealer out here in Tampa, we’ve reached out to him and hopefully you know, we want to provide, like I said, Water Smart Tots our nonprofit believe it all water safety prevention methods. So, we would like to hire or something out with him, where we can include his information. We have C.P.R. and we give out C.P.R. information as well, so it would be great to have his literature out here. I forget his name to be honest.
Eric: His name is [Kwinton Succop].
Kari: Okay, yeah that’s it, that’s right.
Eric: He’s got a weird name, so…
Kari: So, hard to remember. Yeah, my out- reach coordinator has reached out to him and hopefully will be getting his information [inaudible 00:32:53] to distribute as part of our water safety campaign.
Eric: And his wife does swim instruction too, which is kind of …
Kari: Oh, [inaudible 00:33:00], very cool.
Eric: Yeah, she has a swim school in Tampa or it’s outside Tampa. But you know, actually we owe you a pool fence. You can get, chose and donate it to somebody else if you want, but you know, the prerequisites for the save a life program, is anyone who’s had a fatal or non-fatal drowning and you know, essentially there was a rescue involved and had you at the hospital, which you fit all of that even though it was eighteen years ago. So, yeah, we owe you a fence.
Kari: So, nice. Well, I could use one.
Eric: [inaudible 00:33:32] there, you know or if you know somebody that could use it.
Kari: Yeah, definitely. Good, I’ll keep that in mind, very good, thank you.
Eric: Yeah, you know, we do have a lot of people we donate fences to, but they’re like, well you know, we’re going to fill in the pool, removing… you know, that happens a lot, where they don’t want to [inaudible 00:33:49] and they end up giving it to you know, a family member or they know somebody who couldn’t afford it or that kind of thing.
Kari: Good to know, definitely put the word out there for that. Very good.
Eric: And then, you know, in [inaudible 00:34:01] case, you know, because of his twins, you know, he got two. So, he gave one of them away, I think, which is kind of cool.
Kari: Yeah, I’ve watched his…. I have his notifications, I’ve watched him put up fences and he has his own advocacy for water safely. It’s pretty cool, I feel like we’re a tight knit family and everybody seems very passionate in what they do. And you know, I just really would like to see my vision besides, not having one more child drown, to the bigger organizations unite and kind of work together in drowning prevention and kind of respect all methods and all… I mean, if it saves a life and ultimately, it does, you know, why does it matter if they chose you know, the survival swimming or the traditional type swimming lesson or you know and with the fence and the alarms. I mean, ultimately we have the same goal in mind and I don’t think it should be that big of an issue how they get there when it comes to the end result.
Eric: Yeah, Paul actually is our chief giving officer, we call him. So, he’s the guy that actually goes out and you know, contacts families we donate the fences to and you know, normally they’ve had a drowning, so he can connect with them about that. And then he installs his own fences, obviously as well. But, yeah, you’re right, and that’s kind of why we, you know, in ‘1989’ when my dad coined the phrase “layers of protection” for the first time…I like your birds by the way, that’s cool.
Kari: Oh, thanks.
Eric: Yeah, that was the idea that these things don’t have to compete with each other.
Kari: Exactly, they don’t.
Eric: And the late ‘80s’, there was the debate about which is the right solution; whether it’s fences, is it alarms, is it just supervision, period. You know, is it swim lessons, you know, which one is the thing you should do. And you know, he was sitting at a table with the Broward Health Department and the [Consumer Rights Safety Commission] and said, all of them, that you should have multiple layers of protection. That was kind of the beginning of that, followed by a book he wrote in ‘1989’.
Kari: Yes, definitely. And I mean, I agree, as big as the problem is, there’s no one solution and there’s no one organization that’s going to fix the problem you know, if it’s going to take an entire community, it’s going to take a bunch of different advocates from different arenas and different beliefs to unite and come together and respect each other. But you know, that’s my vision, I would like to see that happen one day and I think that’s the only way we can truly prevent drowning and eliminated once and for all.
Eric: Do you think we’re doing a good job?
Kari: I know we’re doing a great job. I do, I think we’re doing a great job, I think there’s a lot of room for improvement and I think my big thing is unity. Going back to the whole unity thing; I’ve been involved with infant swimming resource, drowning prevention, the N.D.P. A. I was an ambassador for the drowning, N.D.P.A. in Tampa and will be an ambassador for them again in the ‘2019’ conference. So, the more I meet people and continue to talk to people, the more I’m seeing how really divided we are in a sense. But you know, I’d like to see that change, that’s where I think the biggest improvement needs to be. But overall, yes, I think we are all passionate, we’re all committed, I think it’s become a lifestyle for many of us and we are doing a great job. But I think ultimately that unity has to be there and the Powers That Be have to come together, the bigger organizations.
Eric: What do you think is the cause of that separation?
Kari: The methodology, I think the lack of understanding and the lack of education in the methodology, partially. But I also think that people feel threatened…. I don’t want to try to put this in the most politically correct, but everybody wants credit, you know, exclusive. It’s that exclusiveness to credit, but you’ll never get there if that’s what you’re looking for. You know, the solution, the vision to eliminate drowning is never going to get there if… we’re never going to get there if everybody is just looking for that exclusivity and that exclusive credit, because it’s bigger than that, it’s bigger than one organization.
Eric: Yeah, a hundred percent. You know, there’s only… the problem is too big for you know, for us to point it to one person or one organization to be like, that’s the guy that cure drowning, you know that [inaudible 00:38:39].
Kari: No, that will never happen. You know, everybody can take credit for their part in it, their little piece in it if they want or some credit. But ultimately, without even with just specific methodology of the survival swimming school, I think without a team of people coming together and you know, learning and educating themselves about it and then becoming instructors and working in their own community in many aspects, I mean, you can’t take credit even for that. Because I think it’s all the instructors as well that went through that training to teach and provide the same skills. And the other the other end bring awareness and get and within the community and talking to people and educating people. So, it’s going to take all different organizations to come together to eliminate pediatric drowning.
Eric: Yeah, I think so. I would like us to be nicer to each other, you know.
Kari: I agree. [Can we set an example] an example? I mean, I understand, I completely agree with you. I think respect is the biggest thing, I think this is what you believe then that’s fine, it’s what I believe, doesn’t mean I’m going to not respect another organization’s belief in efforts to prevent drowning. Have respect among the bigger organizations isn’t [inaudible 00:40:08] and I would like to see that and I believe we will get there hopefully one day.
Eric: I saw a video, a mom who lost a child and she was watching her other daughter get trained. And it wasn’t a formal swim lesson, but it was a swim instructor, Johnny Johnson who is a famous… he’s trained Olympians, he’s been around literally forever, you know, he was the past president of the N.D.P.A, you know, literally a legendary swim instructor and they weren’t doing a formal training, they were just playing in the pool with this mother. And you know, almost all the comments, where other swim instructor was telling him what he was doing wrong and you know, how dangerous it was and how wrong she was and [inaudible 00:40:55] kept saying like, “oh, they’re just hanging out in the water, this isn’t like really a lesson, they’re just playing”. And you know, up to the hour, “the kid is going to drown, this is so terrible”. [Crosstalk]. And I was like, what are you people doing? This is terrible.
Kari: Yeah, no, I disagree. Like I said, it’s just respecting all different methods and options. I mean, we choose as parents, we have the opportunity and the privilege and the luxury of choosing so many things for our children, whether it be private school, public school, breast feeding, bottle feeding, whatever it may be. Gymnastics or soccer or homeschooling or not; we have so many options and we all… there is no one fit, you know, one method fits everybody or every family or every child. So, I don’t believe in… you know, I think just education of the options, just like with anything else and as parent we choose and you know, our choices should not be belittled in any way because there’s no one fit for everybody.
Eric: Right, I agree with that.
Kari: Having the option to choose is a luxury, so it’s just a matter of getting the correct information out there to parents so they can make that wise decision what’s best for them. And it’s the right way to present the information.
Eric: It is and so many people do nothing at all. I think that anyone who is doing something right, should [inaudible 00:42:25] for that.
Kari: Yeah, absolutely. Something is better than nothing. Absolutely.
Eric: We even say that when it comes to CPR, right? You’re better off doing…
Kari: Yeah, and I listen to Dr… is it [inaudible 00:42:37]? I don’t know how to say his name.
Eric: Who is that?
Kari: Dr. [inaudible 00:42:41], the ER that was [inaudible 00:42:42] at the N.D.P.A, ER physician. Oh, when he says, “doing something is better than doing nothing”. And I think back to my son’s situation; I mean we literally just screamed and shook him around, trying to peel off his clothes. So, maybe, yes, you know, maybe that helped, I don’t know, but definitely doing something is better than nothing.
Eric: You know, I don’t know if you met [inaudible 00:43:04] Metro when you were at the N.D.P.A conference. She does CPR party.
Kari: Yes, because the name sounds familiar. Yes.
Eric: Yes. And her son, Clay drowned in a pool and they yank him out and a bystander started doing C.P.R, who had never taken a CPR class. He literally started doing what he’s seen on T.V. [inaudible 00:43:30] you know. And the paramedics came and he was [hello backed] a way and Clay was in a coma for a while and ended up being okay, eventually. You know, now he’s a hundred percent fine, thank God. But you know, they credit the guy who did you know, CPR, who didn’t know what he was doing. But you know, he probably saved that kid’s life. So, that’s when she started doing C.P.R. party, where… it’s like a cup ware party or you know, anyone of those parties. But you learn CPR instead.
Kari: Yeah. We’re actually putting one together this fall in October with the C.P.R. organization and it’s going to be a C.P.R. party/ fundraiser for Water Smart Tots as well. So…
Eric: Oh, that’s cool.
Kari: That’s going to happen in October. Yeah, so and I got the idea from the C.P.R. party, from attending the N.D.P.A; like yeah, let’s make it a party and you know, include a fundraiser with it. So, that’s the whole unity of collaborating and taking ideas from other people and other advocates and implementing them in your community. I think more is merrier and better and like I said, we can all you know benefit from each other and you know, implement what we’ve learned and or what we choose to implement and choose not to. But the options are there and it’s unlimited.
Eric: Yeah and what’s nice about that, is you don’t get certified, but you wanted something, right. And you know, if you walk away with the basics and you can do C.P.R. like that guy who watched it on T.V. you know, you could save somebody.
Kari: Yeah. Something is better than nothing, I definitely believe that.
Eric: Absolutely. So, if somebody wants to make their pool safer you know, what do you recommend parents should do?
Kari: If somebody wants to make their pool safer? Well, in Florida here, we do have the law they have to have the pool safety fence. But I don’t think it’s one method, I think it’s multi, we believe in a multi-layer approach to prevent drowning, which includes the fence, the alarms. I even installed a ring… there’s a ring camera on a post on my pool; the ring. So, I even install that and I have the motion when I’m not using it, there’s the motion thing that goes off on my phone and I thought was pretty cool.
I used it for my doorbell and I like, “Mmm, I wonder if I can take this same thing inside or if it’s a flood light”. They have the floodlights. I wonder if I can take this same concept and put it out there and just ask for outdoors, so when there’s motion around the pool it rings… you know, my phone sends me a signal. And you can get a live view of what’s going on, whether it be a leaf or the dog jumping in the pool or whatever. So, yeah I do have that installed. I have the six foot barrier, plus… I mean, I don’t have little kids but my pool is an above ground pool. So, that serves as a barrier itself, but all layers; the safety fences, the alarms, video cameras, teaching your child to swim and knowing how to do C.P.R. is important. So, it’s a multilayer approach, it’s not one method.
Eric: I think the ringing doorbell is a great idea. I have one on my door and now I’m thinking I need to stick with it in the backyard.
Kari: Oh, yeah. And it’s not the…I mean, it’s the ring doorbell, it’s ring, but they have the floodlights. I don’t know if you’re aware or, this is actually….they have the floodlights, which I have as well back here. But they also have the spotlight, it’s called the spot light out there. So, when there’s motion the light at night it just comes on, but when there’s motion, whether the light is on or not I get a notification on my phone. So, I love that idea.
Eric: That’s really cool. And I know there’s some companies that are trying to do that, but identify it as a child or not and then…
Kari: Oh, yeah, I did learn about that, I briefly kind of got a little information about that.
Eric: Yeah. We lost you. You’re cutting in and out. She’s gone. Oh, you’re back. We can’t hear you, but you’re back. Nope. I mean, I can see you, but I can’t hear you. [Laughing]. Yes, no, maybe?
We’ll give her a second. I like that ring doorbell idea, that’s really cool. I don’t think we ever… because I’ve got one of my door and it does give you notification if someone walks up and it does a history, so you can see prior things. It should… that’s the problem with calling something something, right. If you call it a doorbell, you want to put it by the front door, but if they just called it like a ring motion camera, then you know you wouldn’t just be thinking about it at the front door, you’d be sticking it everywhere.
I think that’s a good idea, I think going to do that. I think I’m going to buy a ring doorbell, which they should rebrand appropriately and I’m going to stick it in my backyard as a pool camera. It’s a really good idea. I think that has a lot of applications and she’s right, it does, it notifies you right on your phone and you can open the notification on your phone, you can see what’s going on live in real time, you can hear, it’s got a microphone so you can pick up what’s going on. And there’s a speaker on it too, so you can actually use your phone to talk out to it. Not that you’re going to say anything to somebody who’s drowning, but you know, if some sixteen year old is in your pool, you can yell at them I guess.
Up… you’re back. We can’t hear you though. Maybe unplugged the headphones. Nope, I still can’t hear you. Nope, very strange, no audio. She’s going inside. But I can see you, so I would say, if you unplug the headphones, you might be better off. There we go. So, this is Kari and we’ll try one more time, if not, I think we’re about to end anyways. So, we can wrap it up if she doesn’t make it back. But you know, I think that doorbell idea alone was really cool and you know, when she was getting through the layers of protection, which I agree with a hundred percent. I did want to clarify that bit about the law though.
I can’t hear you, did you try unplugging the headphones? From the computer? Yeah, alright. Well, here is what we’ll do, we were about done anyways. So, [inaudible 00:50:33] we’ll tell everybody, even though I can’t hear you; I was going to say about the law, is that in Florida they changed it so that a fence is an option, but you can also now get the floating pool alarms, which I think is a bummer. You know, the door with no alarms were not as good but the floating pool alarms was last year. That sucks, but in any case. You’re Kari Bahour and your non-profit is watersmarttots.org, right? Thumbs up, good. And you know, if anybody wants to learn more about you, they can go to watersmarttots.org and check out your nonprofit, you’re doing great work. Thank you so much and we will talk to you really, really, soon. Thanks. Have a great day. Bye, goodbye everyone, it’s Friday.