Other’s opinion: Summer’s not over and neither is water safety

Published 6:30 pm Tuesday, August 9, 2022

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The Free Press, Mankato

As the days of summer speed by, squeezing in more time on the water is often the goal of Minnesotans who have the luxury of having abundant choices for water recreation.

Enjoy your time on the water — but do so without abandoning the respect and caution it deserves. Parents must take extra measures to make sure their children are safe in the water and are supervised at all times.

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Letting vigilance lapse can have dire consequences. Drowning remains one of the leading causes of preventable deaths for children in the U.S., with nearly 800 deaths each year, according to Safe Kids Worldwide, a nonprofit that focuses on keeping children safe.

Unfortunately, the swiftness with which water can take a life was clear on July 21 on the Minnesota River when an 8-year-old girl apparently drown in deep water off a sandbar. Her mother tried to save her but was swept away by the current. Fortunately, a bystander was able to help the girl’s 11-year-old sibling who was also struggling in the water.

Although rivers are especially dangerous because of their current, lakes and pools also are all common sites of drownings.

Sometimes children work their way into residential pools without supervision and end up as drowning or near-drowning victims. Other times parents or adults are present, but drownings occur silently and quickly. It’s a misconception that victims splash and flail when in trouble. You may have less than a minute to react once a child begins to struggle, according to Safe Kids.

Arm children with the skills they need to be in the water, including making sure they wear life jackets when appropriate. If they haven’t had swim lessons, make sure they are enrolled in classes. Don’t, however, think just because children have had lessons that they don’t need to be supervised.

Summer may be winding down, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to relax precautions around the water. Make the remaining summer safe so that there’s next summer to look forward to.