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Letter: Make your kids water-safe

Posted: July 25, 2011 - 7:53pm

I am a water safety instructor, and a lifeguard, and I work for the city pools at both Augustus Brown and Dimond Park. I was at Twin Lakes on Saturday for my grandson’s birthday party and I saw a disturbing sight. I witnessed several young children swimming with out life jackets. Some were in makeshift inner tubes with the bottoms closed off. The children got pretty far out in the lake. The danger in this is that, if the child flips over the tube with the closed bottom, he or she could suffocate if they can’t figure out how to get out from under the tube. The bigger danger is the children in these floating rafts, tubes, etc. … seem to be swimming with out life jackets. If they fall out of the inner tube or raft and it floats away due to wind or other factors, the child is left with out any flotation device. What people don’t seem to understand is that most children don’t have a lot of body fat on them, and Twin Lakes has cold enough water that hypothermia can set in quickly. This slows down the swimming and stiffens the limbs, which can cause even a good swimmer to slip under the water quickly and drown.

Last year I witnessed a 14-year-old drown in front of the Haines dock in about 10 feet of water. It was the saddest day of my life. This young man had almost no body fat, and was close enough to the shore that had he had a life jacket he might have made it. Instead, five lifeguards and 50 people (just out enjoying the sunshine) witnessed one of the worst tragedies. Our hands were tied as we watch this young man’s lifeless body being brought up by a professional diver. His friends, who dove down, tried to find him but the water was too murky.

It is often said that it takes a person to die before rules are made or changes are put into place.

Please parents, put life-jackets on your children and yourself if you are swimming in a cold body of water. Even if you are a good swimmer, hypothermia can and will set in, and even the best swimmers drown.

 Patricia Morgan

Water safety instructor and lifeguard

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