By Chezik Tsunoda (Estimated read time: 3 mins)
Time moves so fast when you have little ones running around. Sometimes it’s hard to believe that I’ve been a member of the PEPS community for almost 9 years. PEPS is a special, if not sacred community for me. I feel so fortunate to have bonded with some women that will be friends for life. They are also the friends that have helped me through the toughest time of my life.
We took our 4 boys to friend’s house for an afternoon of socializing and swimming. Our oldest two boys were 5 and 6 years old at the time and great swimmers. Our littlest guy was 1 and happy playing in the grass nearby, while our youngest middle son, Yori, age 3, was enjoying splashing around on the pool ledge. There were adults in the pool and adults outside watching. However, none of us saw Yori when he slipped and fell underwater, not wearing a life jacket.
Drowning is fast and it’s silent. It’s nothing like the yelling and splashing scenes we see in the movies. We pulled Yori out of the water and attempted CPR until the first responders arrived. They were able to get a pulse and transport him to Seattle Children’s Hospital, but it was too late.
I never thought this could happen to my son or our family. The terrifying truth is that drowning is the #1 reason young children between the ages of one and four die and the #2 cause of death among teenagers.
My PEPS family has been by my side through all of this and they continue to support me through the days when life just doesn’t feel real. For me, PEPS is the village they say it takes. Being a part of this village means sharing our stories and knowledge to keep us thriving and our families safe. This story seems even more important during our Covid-19 summer as children may be at higher risk for drowning.
There are fewer lifeguards out there this summer and fewer life jackets on beaches. There are also more distractions with many of us multi-tasking while watching multiple kids. Remember to be fully present when your children and loved ones are in and around water. This also includes bathtubs, toilets, and buckets with as little as 1 inch of water.
I urge you to educate yourself and others on all the layers of protection around water. Teach your children to swim, put them in life jackets and not puddle jumpers, identify a water watcher when they are swimming, and learn CPR. I truly believe that even one of these particular layers would have saved my son’s life.
In honor of Yori, I started the non-profit organization, No More Under, with a mission to promote water safety and prevent drownings. We are collaborating with local organizations to provide education and resources. Partnering with the YMCA and Rainier Athletes, we are getting life jackets to those most in need. With every $15 donated, a life jacket is purchased, placed, and potentially saves a life. Please visit www.nomoreunder.org to learn more about Yori’s story, our mission, and available resources to help keep your family safe.