WTVM Editorial 7-10-19: Educate on drownings

WTVM Editorial 7-10-19: Educate on drownings

(WTVM) - It’s completely heart-breaking that six year old Jeremiah Henderson drowned in the Chattahoochee River in Columbus. There is nothing as devastating as losing a child, no matter how it happens.

It’s impossible to go back in time to save his precious life. But maybe Jeremiah’s life and untimely death can help educate others about the extreme hazards of the river.

Jeremiah fell into the river in an instant, according to those on the scene. He was not wearing a life-preserver.

It happens every year. In fact, Georgia ranks number 7 in the country for the most drownings between 2009 and 2018.

706 people drowned in Georgia during that time.

Many of those victims were children Jeremiah’s age and younger. And, this is startling; 88% of the children who drowned were boys.

Another sad statistic: African-American and Hispanic children are three times more likely to drown than anyone else.

So, what can be done to reverse this tragic trend? There are no easy answers.

Even recognizing that someone in the water is in distress can be very difficult. The Coast Guard says in most circumstances, people are physiologically unable to call out for help. That’s because the respiratory system is designed for breathing, with speech as a secondary function.

Also, drowning people usually can’t even wave for help. The experts say that’s because nature instinctively forces a drowning victim to extend their arms out to press down on the water’s surface…of course, without success.

Recognizing what drowning looks like is important to know, but taking concrete action is even more important.

Learn to swim. Columbus Parks and Recreation and the YMCA offer swimming lessons. If your child knows how to swim, the drowning risk is cut by almost 90%, according to EndDrowningNow.org

Wear a personal flotation device. If you don’t have one, don’t get close to the water.

Nationally, pools account for more drownings than rivers. But here, where we live, rivers and lakes pose constant threats. So, make sure your children know it’s important to follow the rules around water.

And maybe most importantly, whenever you’re near water, never let them out of your sight.

General Manager Holly Steuart brings an editorial a week to WTVM. If you would like to respond to an editorial, e-mail your response to hsteuart@wtvm.com or write to:

WTVM Editorial Committee

1909 Wynnton Road

Columbus, GA 31906

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