South Florida

Swim Week: Em's Story: Mom Makes Difference After Toddler's Drowning

A South Florida mother's tragedy has inspired her to make a difference when it comes to drowning prevention.

Cassie McGovern would give anything to have her daughter back. At just 19 months old, Em lost her life to a silent killer: drowning.

"On August 3rd, 2009, our family spent the day in the pool and unfortunately that day led to a tragedy where my 19-month-old daughter drowned in our backyard pool," McGovern told NBC 6.

McGovern was home with her entire family on that day but nothing could prepare her for what happened.

"I was that parent that thought that I was doing everything right," McGovern said.

Now she's using her pain to teach other parents the importance of drowning prevention and is the senior drowning prevention coordinator with the Florida Department of Health.

"At that point I realized how big of a problem drowning truly was and decided to commit my life to making a difference and making people aware that it happens very quickly and to good parents," she said.

Even though she misses her daughter every day, McGovern shared her water safety tips, stressing the need to have as many defense layers as possible.

"Obviously supervision is the key. You know you need to watch your children. That's when you have barriers that come into place. You have to have door alarms, you have to have pool fencing along the pool, you have to have them in swim lessons and you also have to know CPR," she said.

Not only can you use these simple yet important tips to protect you and your child near the water, but you can also be a 'Water Watcher.'

"That means not reading a book, texting somebody back, not having a conversation with somebody. That means watching the water, watching the kids in the water and around the water," McGovern said.

The YMCA of South Florida has launched the 'Water Watcher' program. Adults can grab 'Water Watcher' tags at any YMCA location.

"Drowning is the number one cause of death for children one to four and our county actually is one of the highest spots in the country," McGovern said.

South Florida is surrounded by water so McGovern is urging parents to pay attention and take action when it comes to keeping kids safe near the water.

"We have to just make people understand how quickly and how silently drownings actually happen and what they need to do to protect their families," she said.

For details on picking up a 'Water Watcher' badge, click here.

For information about free swim lessons, click here.

For more on NBC 6's Swim Week, click here.

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