City, Highway Patrol Stress Importance of Upcoming Water Safety Class

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COLUMBIA - To cool off during summer, many families enjoy a weekend at the lake, a float trip or a quick jump in the pool.

But Missouri Highway Patrol Sgt. Scott White said living in an area surrounded by water has certain risks.

Since the start of 2017, the Missouri State Highway Patrol has reported 26 drowning deaths in Missouri. According to the National Center for Fatality Review and Prevention, 12 children in Missouri died by drowning in 2015.

To educate more families on how to stay safe in the water, the Columbia Department of Parks and Recreation will hold a free water safety class Thursday, July 6 from 9:30-11:30a.m. at the Douglass Family Aquatic Center on Providence Road. The class is free and no registration is required. Staff members from the Columbia Activity and Recreation Center will lead the class in interactive games to learn more about water safety.

ARC Recreation Supervisor Janel Twehous said it doesn’t take long for a casual day at the pool or lake to become an emergency situation, especially if you have small children with you.

“You can be the most observant parent possible, but there’s times if you just take your eye off them for a second, an incident can happen around the water,” Twehous said.

Twehous also said children under the age of nine are the most at risk for drowning.

Wearing a life jacket and avoiding going near or into water alone are good ways to prevent people of any age from drowning.

“Having a life jacket is one of the factors that can turn something minor into something serious.” Sgt. White said.

While life jackets and lifeguards can be found at every city pool, Sgt. White said families should also establish rules like asking permission before going near water, having to swim with a buddy and making sure children know how to swim by the age of eight.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol strongly encourages families to attend educational water safety classes like the one at Douglass Family Aquatic Center.