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Water safety should be top priority

Article Date: 
6 July, 2012 (All day)

One of summer’s greatest joys is long hot days filled with a dip in the pool.  Cannon balls, splashing children calling out marco polo all bring back floods of memories to most Americans who have experienced a setting similar to this sometime in their life.  Much of our summertime activities revolve around water.  From relaxing on the shore of Pineview, or camping next to a creek in the Uintahs, most of us will come into contact with water.  With extra precaution, these activities can give us a lifetime of memories and a scrapbook full of photos.  
Water can be a great activity; however it can be dangerous.  According to the American Red Cross one in four adults know someone who has drowned.   Drowning happens quickly and silently.  Many children who drown in home pools were out of sight for less than five minutes and in the care of one or both parents.  
 
The place where drowning is likely to occur changes with age:
Children under 1 year most often drown in bathtubs, buckets, or toilets.
Children ages 1-4 years most often drown in home pools.
Older children most often drown in natural water settings.
Home pools are increasing in popularity as above ground home pools are becoming more prevalent.  
Many of us were devastated as we heard reports of little Corbin Anderson drowning during a family photo session in late April.  The beautiful Weber River served as a backdrop until it proved to be fateful.  The following information is taken from an interview Corbin Anderson’s mother had with the Ogden Standard Examiner and is intended to remind all of us to be more diligent in keeping our children safe.   
“People say, ‘Our kids will never drown because we are always with them,’ ” Melanie Anderson recently stated. “We were right there, three adults, and he still drowned.”
Anderson bravely spoke about the subject in order to point out the dangers that are out there for children.  Also, she wants Corbin’s life and death to stand for something.  She explained “We hope he didn’t die for no reason, that he can affect something somehow.”
It had been reported that Corbin had slipped on a rock; however his mother wanted to clarify that he had actually jumped.  “He jumped and he was gone so fast, and our life changed in a minute, and we want people to know that.” 
Young children can be unpredictable and they do not comprehend the dangers around them.  
Morgan County is lucky enough to have a handful of excellent swimming instructors.  The American Red Cross website states, “The best thing you can do to help your family stay safe this summer is to enroll in age-appropriate swim lessons.”  Hundreds of children around the valley have completed or are completing swim lessons.  
One local swim instructor, Diane Dickson, has taught innumerable classes because she wants to help children learn to swim.  Dixon stated “I want them to stay safe and have fun.”  She taught nearly 100 students during June spending over 5 hours a day in the pool.
One of the biggest dangers she has seen is kids thinking they can do something they can’t do.  Probably everyone can think of a time they have seen a child do something they did not realize was dangerous.  Teach them water safety and remind them often of rules that are set to their ability and age.
“It only takes a split second and you can have a sad situation,” Dickson warned.   She tells parents to help their beginner swimmers to get into the habit of turning onto their backs after jumping into the water.  They can stay afloat and keep their faces out of the water longer and easier.   Then if you see your child in trouble call out and remind them to go to their back. Dickson explains by getting them to their backs you can get three or four more seconds to get there to help them.  
The Red Cross states “Staying safe around water doesn’t mean having kids wear water wings.”  They suggest rather that young children and inexperienced swimmers wear US Coast Guard approved life jackets around water.  However life jackets should not be relied on alone.  Constant, close supervision is always necessary.   
Never Leave children unattended near water and do not trust a child’s life to another child.   Children do not have the thought process or physical abilities that responsible adults have.  Avoid distractions while supervising children around water.  Parents are advised to stay within arm’s reach of young children.  
Go out and enjoy water activities this summer but follow precautions and return home safely.