Five Rivers MetroParks, Dayton Children’s highlight water practices for drowning prevention

Miami Valley News

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – With warmer weather comes more time spent in the water, but health officials are reminding parents of young children to be cognizant of dangers that could come from water activities.

Abbey Pettiford, injury prevention specialist at Dayton Children’s Hospital, said “One common misconception is that drowning is loud. It is silent. If they’re underwater or they’ve inhaled water, they may not be able to speak.”

She said it’s also fast, and can occur in less than 60 seconds. Kids younger than 12-years-old, she added, are at an increased risk for accidental drowning because their bodies are not equipped to respond like most adults.

“Kids specifically need supervision because one, they’re just not quite as strong as some adults.”

And their strength, she said, may be overwhelmed depending on the body of water in which they are swimming.

“Open water is unpredictable. You don’t know whether or not the water is going to flow or rush. You can’t predict that. So you need to know that before going in. And we recommend if you’re in open water at all that you always have a life jacket on.”

Additional tips for keeping youngsters safe in and around water include swimming in groups, designating a water watcher whose sole responsibility is focusing on the children, and getting kids swimming lessons early.  And kids, she said, can help alert peers or an adult if they are having a difficult time staying above water.

“If they can get out of the water, they should get out of the water as soon as possible,” she said. “If not, they need to yell for help and say that they need help getting out of the water or that they’re struggling. 

After crews recovered the body of a nine-year-old in a lake at Eastwood MetroPark Monday morning, Chief of Public Safety at Five Rivers MetroParks, Mark Hess, is encouraging community members to be particularly diligent about their water safety. He said the organization recommends swimming only in pools with a lifeguard and using a life jacket whenever you are near natural water. He added, the park system does not currently plan to make any changes to operations, as park rangers regularly monitor the parks and additional “no swimming” signage has gone up over the last two years.

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