(WCSC) – Charleston County Waterparks are preparing to open its three water parks Saturday, running weekend hours until early June.

“Thousands of people come through our gates so our lifeguards have a very busy job keeping in charge of all of our visitors,” Sarah Reynolds with Charleston County Parks said. “training pretty much up until they open.” Even with lifeguards on duty at each waterpark station, officials are encouraging parents to take an active role in watching their child while in or near the water. “We encourage the parents to watch their kids as well. They have a better understanding of the limitations of their child,” Reynolds said.

Sometimes swimmers do indeed get over their heads. According to park officials, Splash Island waterpark in Mount Pleasant had 86 rescues last year while James Island’s Splash Zone had 13. Whirlin’ Waters in North Charleston totaled 142, 59 percent of the rescues made at the wave pool while officials said the majority of the rescues were for swimmers ages 7-12. For added safety, the parks offer personal flotation devices, available for all ages included in the cost of waterpark admission.

Meanwhile, water safety experts such as Shannon Palm with the Children’s Trust of South Carolina recommend all ages emphasize water safety. Palm said adults should also have a designated “water watcher” who will stay alert and give kids undivided attention.

According to Palm, it only takes seconds for a drowning to occur. “People think when someone is drowning they’re going to hear yelling and splashing and hands waving in the air, but it happens very quickly and without sound,” Palm said.

Signs of drowning include:

  • Silence
  • Head low in the water, mouth at water level
  • Head tilted back with mouth open
  • Eyes are glassy, unable to focus, or closed
  • Upright in water, not using legs
  • Gasping
  • Trying to roll over on the back