Local News

It Pays to be Safe Around Water

Posted July 7, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— The Triangle has seen two tragic drowning accidents in the past week. The point is now being driven home that people need to learn how to be safe around water.

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

Slow-moving water looks harmless enough, especially if it's not very deep, 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, but experts 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 protect themselves and how to save someone who is drowning. Miriam Morton is in one of the classes. She says she's learned some important things.

Humpheries and other park rangers conducted the course showing students the 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 to find something, such as a stick or rope, and use it to pull the person to safety.

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 or perhaps a cushion.

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

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

Photographer:Ron Pittman