A Florida father was willing to do whatever it took to prevent his son from drowning after the almost 2-year-old boy accidentally fell into their backyard pool recently.
Albert Passavanti is now warning other parents that “baby gates only work when you close them,” while also sharing footage of the terrifying incident — captured on his home camera system — in an effort to stress the importance of using those preventative child safety measures effectively.
Passavanti and his family were enjoying a relaxing afternoon on Sunday — his wife and daughter in the pool, while he was lounging in the shade — when his son, Rocco, fell into the water.
At the time, the 1-and-a-half-year-old was playing with an inflatable ball in their Palm Beach County yard when it suddenly landed in the pool.
In an effort to chase it, Rocco ran through the open pool gate, reached for the ball, but accidentally leaned too far and fell into the water — and according to Passavanti, he cannot swim.
Without any hesitations, Passavanti rose from his chair and leapt over the 4-foot fence surrounding the pool to dive in and rescue his son. The rest of his family, meanwhile, can be seen in the video watching on in fear.
“The second you see it, you get Superman strength and just have to go for it,” Passavanti told WPTV of his instantaneous actions. “Whatever you got to do.”
Though the pool gate was open, Passavanti said, in the heat of the moment, he didn’t consider going around it. “It didn’t even cross my mind to go around,” he explained to the local news outlet. “It was point A to point B.”
Thankfully, Passavanti’s quick actions saved Rocco’s life, but the Florida native acknowledged that having preventative measures, such as the gate around their pool, does not mean they’ll be effective if they’re not used properly.
“Heads-up parenting, watch what’s going on. Keep your eyes on your kids,” he advised to WPTV. “You’ve got these preventative measures, make sure you use them properly.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control, children between the ages of 1 and 4 have the highest drowning rates, with most occurring in swimming pools at home. And among the children ages 1 to 4 who die of unintentional injuries, drowning accounts for one-third of the deaths.
The American Red Cross recommends protecting home pools with a gate. “Secure your pool with appropriate barriers. Completely surround your pool with a 4-feet high fence or barrier with a self-closing, self-latching gate. Place a safety cover on the pool or hot tub when not in use and remove any ladders or steps used for access. Consider installing a pool alarm that goes off if anyone enters the pool,” says the American Red Cross website.
The American Red Cross also advises that parents take first aid and CPR courses to help in an emergency. They provide step-by-step instructions on their website and offer classes around the country, found here.