Experts: It's crucial parents get message to prevent drownings - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, Florida-

Experts: It's crucial parents get message to prevent drownings

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PHOENIX (CBS5) -

When many people picture drownings, someone is waving for help, calling out, thrashing in the water, but experts say often it doesn't look like that at all.

Children often slip underwater virtually unnoticed and in a few moments, they may be practically invisible under the water.

"We expect this Hollywood vision of what happened, 'Hey, Hey, I need help,' and that's not a reality. When people are going underwater and they come out, they're trying to grasp air and fill their lungs up. It takes oxygen to scream, so they're not screaming, they're trying to get air," paramedic Kelly Liebermann said.

Experts say it's crucial parents get the message.

So far this year, Phoenix firefighters have been sent to 23 possible drowning calls involving young children.

SRP, Banner Health and Safe Kids Maricopa County have partnered with Phoenix Fire and Aquatics to educate parents and kids on water safety.

On Wednesday, firefighters and park workers demonstrated just how easy it is to lose sight of someone underwater. The swimmer is virtually impossible to see beneath the surface, even in a clean, light-colored pool.

That's why emergency workers say don't take your eye off your kids in water and put the cell phone away.

"If children are in the pool, there needs to be undivided attention. And don't always expect someone else to be watching your kids. That is complacency and complacency kills," Liebermann said.

"Whether they can swim or whether they cannot swim, you need to be interactive with those children in the water," Phoenix Parks and Recreation Aquatics Supervisor Becky Hulett said.

A small child who is drowning may simply be face down in the water with very little movement, experts say, and it will very likely be silent and easy to miss if you're not watching.

Experts say children often look like they're climbing an "invisible ladder" or trying to "dog paddle" as they struggle in the water.

One of the best things you can do is teach the child to swim. Lessons are only $15 for an eight-week course at Phoenix pools. Click here for date and times.

Copyright 2014 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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