With water levels at the lowest levels in recent memory, this year marks a particularly dangerous time for visits to the lake.
Texas game wardens investigated seven drowning deaths and another four boating-related fatalities over one of the state’s deadliest Memorial Day weekends this year. But 24 people have drowned or been fatally injured in water-related accidents since May 9 in Texas. When you include swimming pools, twenty-six children have drowned this year.
Whether in a pool, or at the lake or the beach, there are numerous dangers to swimmers and boaters that range from simply getting overtired to getting caught in a current, to getting cut on jagged rocks, running up on a sand bar, to getting caught in weeds or grass in the water from which you cannot easily get untangled.
– Don’t let kids swim without adult supervision.
– Most boating accidents, particularly among teenagers, are related to alcohol. When you and your family are boating, assign a designated driver who won’t drink. Be sure teens know about the dangers of alcohol, on and off the water.
– Teach kids to always swim when and where a lifeguard is on duty or near parents who are supervising them. They shouldn’t swim close to piers or pilings because sudden water movements may cause swimmers to collide with them.
– Unlike the calm waters of a swimming pool, the beach has special dangers like currents and tides. Check with the lifeguard when you arrive to find out about the water conditions.
– Don’t allow kids to swim in large waves or undertows, and tell them never to stand with their back to the water because a sudden wave can easily knock them over.
– Teach kids that if they’re caught in a rip current or undertow, they should swim parallel to the shore or should tread water and call for a lifeguard’s help.
– Always get out of the water during bad weather, especially lightning, and teach your children to do the same.
Hazards can come from anywhere, as mentioned earlier, including the sky above. Always check the weather report for the lake area before you leave for the day. If the weather threatens to turn unpleasant, set your phone to alert you, or take a portable battery-operated radio to listen for weather alerts. Leave the water at the first sound of thunder, and don’t go back into the water until at least 20 minutes after the last clap of thunder has passed. If lightning occurs, evacuate the beach entirely.
If you take children to swim in a lake, keep them within arm’s length at all times. Strong underwater currents can catch youngsters by surprise and pull them under in seconds. Always have your children wear life vests in the water. Be careful about allowing children into the water after a meal, or if they are over-heated. Make sure you take a beach umbrella or canopy to provide shade and a cool place for children to rest between swims.
Contact Denton County Sheriff Will Travis at 940-349-1700.