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"It takes only a few hours and it's also kinda, sorta fun."

Summer is here. The season of backyard barbecues, long evenings by the bonfire, and a nagging worry that every parent can relate to — the dangers that come with a swimming pool.

The chances a child will die from drowning are relatively low, according to the CDC. But still — it's great to be prepared to step in and help with CPR, should it ever be necessary.


Actor Ryan Reynolds definitely thinks so.

Reynolds recently went to a CPR training class focused on toddlers and infants.

Reynolds and his wife, fellow A-lister Blake Lively (who also attended the class), are parents to two young daughters: 2-year-old James and 9-month old Ines.

The actor posted a photo from his CPR class to Instagram on June 27, noting how being certified once helped him save a family member's life.

"Years ago, I took a CPR course thru the Red Cross," Reynolds wrote. "And holy shit, I ended up saving my nephew's life because I knew what to do! True story!"

"Yesterday I took a refresher course — focusing on infant and toddler CPR," the actor continued. "It takes only a few hours and it's also kinda, sorta fun."

Lively also encouraged her followers to get trained if they haven't already.

"Google 'infant CPR class near me' and you'll see lots of listings," she wrote.

The Livelys are right: Learning CPR is quick, easy, and certainly worth the trouble.

Nothing can give you the same in-depth instruction as a course taught by a professional (you can easily find an American Red Cross CPR training in your area). But there are still plenty of helpful guides online with free resources you can access to help you get started.

As Lively noted, just knowing you have the know-how to help in a critical moment will let you enjoy those backyard poolside barbecues this summer, feeling a little more carefree.

"For those of you who haven't done it, you will love it," she wrote on Instagram. "It's so helpful by giving you knowledge, tools, and some peace of mind."

Here's an overview on CPR instructions so you can better understand what a training course entails:

This article originally appeared on 06.27.17


Photo by Lavi Perchik on Unsplash

Neighbor saves boy drowning in pool.

Most people don’t wake up and wonder how they can become a hero that day. In most instances, it’s about being in the right place at the right time and acting on instinct. That’s what happened when Kansas resident Tom Westerhaus was alerted by his 12-year-old daughter, Maddox, that their neighbor’s preschooler had fallen into the pool. The dad, who had been trained as a lifeguard in his youth, went directly to his training, even though it had been years since he took the required classes. He dived in and was able to pull the 4-year-old out of the pool and immediately begin chest compressions. The child had been submerged for more than three minutes.


The boy's mother, Alexis Rigney, was living many parents' worst nightmare. The mom-of-two said she was taking care of her 4-month-old when she noticed her door was open and her older child was missing. Rigney reported that her son, Xzavier, has autism and when she ran outside to locate him, she heard sirens. Thanks to her neighbor's heroic instinct, her child began breathing on his own after more than two minutes of chest compressions.

Paramedics arrived shortly after the boy began coughing up water and confirmed that if Westerhaus hadn't jumped in when he did, Xzavier probably wouldn't have survived. The father-daughter duo received Hometown Hero awards from Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical for their quick thinking and lifesaving actions. The first responders said that drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death in children and drowning doesn’t always look the way people think.

Thank goodness Maddox recognized something was wrong and alerted her father. Hopefully the pair went out for ice cream to celebrate their new hero status. Surely Xzavier’s mom is storing up on snuggles with her little guy and undoubtedly grateful for her neighbor’s quick acting.

"How many of you guys like being in the water?"

That's what two-time Olympic gold medalist Cullen Jones usually asks a group of squealing, excited kids in bathing suits at pools around the country. Millions of kids will jump in a pool on a hot summer day. But, summertime fun shouldn't come at the expense of safety. Jones and the USA Swimming Foundation want to make sure it's a safe experience for everyone.


Photo by Mike Lewis/USA Swimming Foundation.

In the summer of 2018, the USA Swimming Foundation's Make a Splash initiative is sending more than 1 million kids to the pool to learn to swim, and they're doing it to reach families and kids who might not otherwise have access to lessons

According to research from Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, formal swimming lessons reduces the likelihood of childhood drowning by 88%.

Make a Splash is working to make swimming lessons accessible for everyone by offering free or low-cost swim lessons. Research shows that 87% of swimmers with little or no ability have plans to go to a swimming facility this summer at least once, and 34% plan to go 10 or more times. Even more concerning, drowning is a top cause of unintentional death for all children under age 14 both in the U.S. and globally. But, the Make a Splash team is working to reduce those numbers.

Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Palais Princier de Monaco.

For 12 years, through the Make a Splash initiative, the USA Swimming Foundation has partnered with learn-to-swim providers in all 50 states, offering low-cost or free swimming lessons and educating more than 6 million children and their families on the importance of learning to swim. The initiative's mission strikes a chord for Jones personally, which is why he's devoted nine years to being an ambassador for the program.

"I've gotta say, it's gotta be the kids, and watching them and their evolution as they blow bubbles for the first time or go underwater for the first time, and watching them breaks those barriers," Jones says. "I think that's been not only the reason that I stayed true to this initiative but also why I've continued to swim for as long as I have."

Jones loved being in the water at an early age even though he couldn't swim.

A trip to a water park changed his life forever. Jones flipped over in an inner tube in the water, and while he ultimately was unharmed, it was enough to push his mom to immediately put him in swimming lessons. I think it's safe to say that Jones learned how to swim well — and then some.

"I feel very close to the mission statement when it comes to saving lives and when I see that those giant statistics are still as bad as they are, even though we've seen some of them get better, I still know that I could've been one of those numbers. And I think that's what still drives me."

Photo by Martin Bureau/AFP/GettyImages.

Though Jones didn't expect his swim lessons to lead to a career as a professional swimmer, he's immensely grateful for the chance to help other kids learn to swim, particularly those who are historically underrepresented at the pool.

In 2010, approximately 70% of black kids and 60% of Latino kids had little or no swimming ability, compared with 42% of their white peers. Thankfully, those numbers have steadily improved. Currently, those percentages have dropped to 64% and 45%, a reduction Jones thinks is due in large part to a changing narrative around the importance of learning to swim.

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

"There's always been a stigma that black people don't swim. It's been a running joke in our culture," says Jones. "It's also something that we have accepted as a culture. And I think that that's why these lessons are so important because you're changing the perception of a culture."

"You never know what can happen, but it's better to teach your child how to be safer on the water, than to limit them." Jones says. "Let your child be successful around water because your child's going to want to be around water. Especially now because it's hot. Every single place that I say to the kids, 'How do you like being in the water now?' and every hand shoots up in the air. It's important that we teach them how to be safer around that water."

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Everyone stood by as a man drowned. Here's why this refugee jumped in.

While other bystanders pulled out their camera phones, he jumped into a freezing canal.

On Christmas Day, Mohsen Alwais decided to take a road trip to Amsterdam with a group of friends.

Their plan was to walk around, see the city, and enjoy the Christmas lights and celebration.


Mohsen and a friend on their way to see the Christmas lights in Amsterdam. All photos here provided by Mohsen and used with permission.

But that never happened. As soon as the six friends drove into the city, they stopped at a red light and saw a man standing on a bridge and shouting for help.

Mohsen thought maybe a child had fallen into one of Amsterdam’s famous canals. So he and his friends put the hazards on, left their car at the light, and piled out to see what was wrong.

“I looked down,” Mohsen said, “and I saw a Dutch guy, about 55, 60 years old, drowning in the water.”

About 20 people had gathered on the bridge. Most of them were videotaping the floundering man with their mobile phones. But nobody was doing anything.

“He’s drowning, he’s drowning!” shouted Mohsen’s friend, Hala.

Mohsen took off his hat and jacket. A Dutch bystander grabbed him by the shoulder. “Don’t jump in,” he said. “He’ll pull you under and you’ll both drown.”

Mohsen looked down. The man’s head kept slipping below the freezing water. He thought about how the man’s children would feel when their father didn’t come home that night. He imagined them asking, “Where is Daddy?”

He jumped.

“Mohsen had a brave heart, more than me, and he went down quickly,” his friend Nibaal said. “And if Mohsen hadn’t done it, I would have.”

Last year, more than a million refugees crossed into Europe. More than 3 in 4 of them were from the war-torn countries of Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

Most of them want what people everywhere want: education, a job, and a home that isn’t being bombed to smithereens. But Europe’s far-right politicians are accusing them of everything from being “testosterone bombs” to trying to establish an Islamic caliphate.

Mohsen is one of those refugees.

In June 2014, he fled the war in Syria. He took a flimsy rubber raft packed with refugees to the Greek island of Samos. In Athens, a smuggler locked him inside a truck crammed with people, and seven horrible days later, he was in the Netherlands. Today he lives in Leiden, about 25 miles southwest of Amsterdam.

Like Mohsen, two of his friends almost drowned on the dangerous journey to reach Europe.

Hala took a raft from Libya to Italy — the deadly Mediterranean passage where 3,771 people drowned last year. Nibaal almost went down between Turkey and Greece.

“As Arabic people, we can’t stand to see a person drowning,” said Nibaal, who is from Damascus. “We can’t ignore it.”

When Mohsen reached the drowning man, he grabbed his right hand and squeezed it to see if he was still alive.

“You’re OK,” he kept saying to the man. “You’re OK.”

“Bravo, habiby, bravo!” Nibaal shouted from the bridge.

Mohsen dragged the man to the stone base of the bridge. Nibaal threw down a rope. Mohsen held the rope with one hand and the man with the other, trying to keep their heads above the freezing water. “He was really heavy,” said Mohsen, “but God gave me strength.”

After about five minutes, two police boats roared up. First they picked up Mohsen and the man he’d just saved. Nibaal followed in a second boat. As he got into the boat, Nibaal looked up. By then, around 200 people were standing on the bridge. As they sped away in the boats, everyone clapped. “It was like a movie,” he said.

Mohsen’s split-second decision probably saved the man’s life.

He got there “just in time,” Dutch police said later. “Otherwise it could have ended differently.” Two weeks later, Mohsen got a big bouquet of Dutch flowers and a letter from Henri Lenferink, the mayor of Leiden.

“As the mayor of the city of Leiden, I am proud that you are a citizen of Leiden!” Lenferink wrote in the letter. “You are a great example for others, both refugees and Dutch citizens.”

But Mohsen says there’s nothing remarkable about what he did.

“These days, many medias and many people are pointing at Muslim people, saying: ‘They are terrorists. It’s the religion of bad actions and killing,’" he said. "And I would just like to say no ... I am a Muslim, and I could help a non-Muslim guy. That’s what my religion asks me to do.”

Mohsen's dream is to keep helping people by designing prosthetic hands that work with neural impulses from the brain.

He's a trained biomedical engineer, and last year he started a charity to provide support to other Syrian refugees and hopefully take some pressure off the Dutch government.

“European countries are giving a lot of things to refugees,” says Mohsen. “They give us all kinds of support.”

Saving the drowning man was something anyone would have done, he says, but for him it was also “something to return, some small thing to do for Dutch people.”