NBC15 WMTV | Madison, WI | News

Drownings on the Rise


A warning for those of you looking to cool off from this summer heat wave.

In the last four days, 3 people have drowned, 2 of them children.

Across the country, more than 3,000 people drown every year [according to the Centers for Disease Control]. That's an average of 9 people every day.

Wisconsin is no different.

According to the Department of Health and Family Services, in 2003, 54 people drowned and another 49 were hospitalized for near-drownings. Nearly half of those cases involved children.

"Here it's a lot different from normal pools, but it still is a little scary," says Tommy Gleason, who teaches swim lessons and lifeguards at High Point Swim Club, "When it gets really crowded it's hard. We try to keep an eye on everyone but it's really hard."

Pam Moen of the Badger Chapter of the American Red Cross says, "The saddest aspect to a drowning is that virtually all drownings can be prevented."

Moen witnesses a close call. She saved a boy from drowning, while his father was within arms reach.

"That was an eye opening experience to let me know just how quickly something like that can happen even if you're right there with a child."

That's why she advises learn to swim and never swim alone.

The Red Cross now has stricter standards for its swim lessons.

"The most recent Red Cross swimming program really is intended to make sure that kids and adults are learning the skills at one level before they advance to the next," says Moen.

That way everyone can play it safe when they swim this summer.

"Make sure you have confidence in yourself," advises Gleason, "Because if you don't have confidence that you can swim, then you're going to struggle and the chances of you going under are going to increase."

Other tips: swim only in supervised areas, don't mix alcohol and water activities and never leave a child unsupervised, even when a lifeguard is on duty.


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