Drowning deaths give us pause

June 28, 2013 

There’s a piece of my history I rarely discuss, mostly because it is extremely embarrassing and something that shook me so deeply, I can recall every moment of it to this day.

It was the day in fifth grade that I felt I was drowning.

Many factors led to that event – kids acting like kids, horseplay around the in-ground pool, my lack of water knowledge and no swimming skills on my part.

Those are combinations that can lead to tragedy.

I feel fortunate a friend of mine was there to pull me out of the “deep end” that day.

Some people are not so fortunate.

The feeling of drowning leads to panic and irrational decisions, and those are the worst things that can happen to a person in the water under duress.

In the last two weeks, we’ve had multiple drownings in Cass and Jackson counties.

With each instance, we vow to discuss water safety in the summer and again remind people of the vital nature of not only respecting the water, but understanding those factors that go into a safe and unsafe experience.

We all know alcohol and water don’t mix. And we all should know that even experienced swimmers should have safety vests or floatation devices at hand at all times.

But we simply cannot emphasize this enough.

As much time as I spent at the neighborhood swimming pool growing up, I never bothered to actually learn to swim. This was a bad decision on my part.

Putting myself in a situation where I was in deep water, and most likely not discussing my lack of swimming ability with any of my friends, was even more foolish.

Early summer seems to be, unfortunately, a time when we see these types of water accidents and drowning incidents.

It’s a time when we reiterate water safety to our kids and each other.

My goal is to get my soon-to-be 3-year-old daughter into swimming lessons sooner rather than later.

I want her to enjoy the benefits of swimming without the constant fear that sometimes overwhelmed me.

I also want to give praise to the area underwater unit out of Lee’s Summit that has had to do unthinkable rescue and recovery work this summer.

We’re fortunate to have such an experienced and dedicated group serving our county.

Let’s hope they have minimal work to do in this area the remainder of the summer.

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