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Drownings a Major Concern Over the Holiday Weekend

By Daniel Cherry | Published 28 Jun 2011 07:22pm | comments

Nearly 10 people die each day in the U.S. from drowning. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports what residents here in Mississippi can do to keep from becoming part of that statistic.

The hot weather and the holiday weekend will have thousands of Mississippians hitting the water. But those who don't practice safety can quickly turn a good time into a tragedy. Janet Reihle is trying to prevent just that at the Jackson YMCA. She decided after she became pregnant it was a great time to learn how to swim.

"Knowing I'll have a child, I want them to feel comfortable in the water, and I definitely want to expose them as early as I can to water, but I'm not going to let them into a pool without me being comfortable in that pool too. So it's important for me to have that skill now too."

Children under 14 are at the highest risk of drowning, and nearly 80 percent of drowning deaths are males. That's largely due to the fact young males are more likely to take risks. Perry Waggener is the Ross Barnett Reservoir Patrol Chief. He says police can't be everywhere at once so people need to recognize how strong a swimmer they are.

"You always need to know your abilities and not exceed your abilities when swimming. There's a lot of areas around the reservoir where you can see land on the other side or you can see a landmark and it doesn't look that far. When you're actually swimming in the water it's much further than you think."

People who aren't strong swimmers can be safer by keeping near others in the water. But Jim Pollard with American Medical Response says that only works if everyone's paying attention.

"There's not typically a great deal of splashing and yelling and what not when someone is drowning. It's a silent killer. A lot of folks don't anticipate that. So you turn around and you look and someone in your party is missing, they've gone under, and you really didn't even notice."

Already this week two people have drowned in the state. Officials are wanting to keep the number there even as more people take to the water this weekend.

 

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