Freshwater drownings are a serious risk

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 12, 2001

A tragic incident in Franklin County reminds us once again how dangerous our native lands can be.

Two teenagers drowned Monday while wading in the Homochitto River. Officials say the two boys were likely caught by the swift undercurrent in the river. Undercurrents, eddies, even sandbars can be deceptively dangerous.

And not just in Southwest Mississippi.

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According to a recent study by the National institute of Child Health and Human Development, rivers, lakes and ponds pose the biggest drowning threats to children ages 6 to 20. In fact, 47 percent of the drownings reported during the study period occurred in freshwater areas.

Perhaps those rates can be explained in part by age – parents may tend to be less cautious or attentive as their children age, giving teenagers and tweens wide latitude to swim without adult supervision. Perhaps the parents or even the children themselves underestimate the danger of these freshwater swimming spots – especially rivers and lakes. Perhaps a healthy dose of attentiveness along with an emphasis on safety are in order for parents and children.

The basics – no unsupervised swimming for young children; always swim with a buddy; never dive headfirst into rivers, lakes or ponds; swim only in areas you know well; and, above all, stay attentive to changing currents and tides – are only that, the basics.

Good judgment, common sense and clear thought are just as important to protecting our children during the summer, and any time of the year.