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It Pays to be Safe Around Water

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RALEIGH — The Triangle has seen two tragic drowningaccidents in the past week. The point is now being driven home that peopleneed to learn how to be safe around water.

The most obvious suggestion, experts say, is to know how to swim, buteven that's not the end of it. You also need to know how to help savethe life of another without endangering your own.

Slow-moving water looks harmless enough, especially if it's not verydeep, but don't be fooled. Even shallow, still water can be deadly.Most people say they would go in the water to bring a child to safety, butexperts say that may not be the best solution.

Park Ranger Lee Humpheries says drowning is a leading cause of death.

That's why Falls Lake offered children a crash course on how to protectthemselves and how to save someone who is drowning. Miriam Morton is inone of the classes. She says she's learned some important things.

Humpheries and other park rangers conducted the course showing studentsthe best way to help someone in trouble.

She says if you see someone having trouble in the water, don't go in after them. Instead, try tofind something, such as a stick or rope, and use it to pull the person tosafety.

If you can't find a stick, throw out something that will float.Preferably use a throw ring, but you can improvise with plastic jugs orperhaps a cushion.

An important thing to remember is that someone in trouble in thewater is probably panicked. His adrenaline is pumping, he's trying to getair, and he can quickly pull you under with him.

Drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury and deathfor children younger than 14. Each year more than 1,100 children that agedrown and more than half are pre-schoolers. Of those four and under, 70percent are with a parent when the drowning occurs and 75 percent aremissing from sight for only five minutes or less.

Photographer:Ron Pittman

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