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'You can save a life just by learning CPR' | 14-year-old recovers from nearly drowning

Keaton Nichols is still weak from being on a ventilator and doctors still aren't sure if he had a cardiac event or a seizure in the water.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Pool covers are coming off and people are looking to cool down, this means it's more important than ever to make sure your children know how to swim. 

The Charlotte region has seen several kids drown in the last few weeks.

“I think it’s so important, your life can change in an instant if your kids aren’t prepared or ready to be in the pool," Charlotte parent Erin Jacobson said. 

According to the CDC, drowning is a leading cause of death for children ages 1-4. Every year in the United States there are an estimated 3,960 fatal drownings.

“Swimming reduces that risk of drowning by 88%," Kelly Gaines, owner of Charlotte Aquatic Swim School, said. “The younger you can get your kids into swim lessons the better." 

Gaines said parents need to have a designated person watching the kids around the water at all times, even if they are in a big group, and even if there are lifeguards present. 

“You watch the kids and that’s your sole job, you’re not on the phone, not looking at your magazine, you’re watching the kids," Gaines said. "Then 15, 20 minutes you rotate, and if your kids don’t know how to swim you need to be in the water with them."

Lastly, learn life-saving steps, in case a child becomes unresponsive in the water.

“Get them out, assess if they’re breathing, if they have a heart rate, call 911 and start CPR," Gaines said.

Keaton Nichols, 14, has been fighting for his life in at Levine Children's Hospital after nearly drowning. A few weeks ago, the Durham family was visiting Charlotte for a baseball tournament when they decided to hang out in the hotel pool.

Without warning, something went wrong and the Keaton Nichols didn't resurface from the water. 

“We were sitting around the pool talking and noticed that Keaton Nichols went underwater, thought he was swimming underwater because he can do that, but it wasn’t until his younger brother said mom he’s not coming up," Sofie Nichols explained. 

It happened in an instant.

“He was completely limb and started to turn blue and I had never seen anything like that before in my entire life," Don Nichols said.

But luckily, Keaton Nichols's mom Stacie jumped into action with CPR.

“Very hard, very hard as parents, and even harder to be the ones to do CPR to save him but thankfully we knew CPR and were able to do that and we’ve been told here at Levine that that is what gave him the greatest outcome," Stacie Nichols said. 

Now, Keaton Nichols is working to recover. He's still weak from being on a ventilator and doctors still aren't sure if Keaton Nichols had a cardiac event or a seizure in the water.

“Regardless of the age of the person, even if it’s an adult, you should never swim alone," Stacie Nichols said. 

"He had no pulse, no heartbeat when we pulled him out of the pool," Don Nichols.   

She recommends that parents learn CPR.

Keaton Nichols's story proves that, even when life deals out the unexpected, there's always a chance to resurface. If you would like to donate to Keaton Nichols, there is a GoFundMe.

Contact Lexi Wilson at lwilson@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.     

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