The arrival of summer brings an exciting sense of change. Many graduations have commenced, setting the stage of the next milestone in the lives of aspiring youths while others are simply daydreaming of days filled with summer freedom.
As the notorious Texas heat increases, the calling for water activities is quite compelling whether at the beach, lake or swimming in the backyard pool. As a father and public servant, I felt compelled to highlight a serious issue that knows no socio-economic, race, educational or parental boundaries – accidental drowning.
Across the nation, an average of 10 people per day lose their precious lives from drowning. It’s heartbreaking that Texas has some of the highest numbers of drownings of the states. It is the leading cause of death for children ages one through five and is also the second leading cause of unintentional injury-related loss of life for ages one to fourteen. We can do more to prevent these horrific tragedies, and it starts with increased awareness from everyone.
As your state representative, I have read many accounts of accidental drowning through public testimony and studied the many types of water accidents. I was already deeply moved by the heart-wrenching loss of an area teen, Britteny Sage Lindt, by an unthinkable hit and run boating accident in 2006. Her amazing family and the outpouring of love from our community led me to overhaul lake recreational safety including implementing our state’s first boating safety course requirement for anyone born on or after September 1, 1993.
With the tremendous partnership with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, our state has since successfully seen the impact of this lake recreational safety bill package that includes a short public service video on lake safety shown in all driver education classes. Whether you are new to the water or not, I highly encourage you to watch this powerful message at www.tpwd.state.tx.us/fishboat/boat/safety.
Prevention is crucial no matter if you are near water indoors or out. Three-quarters of all fatal drowning accidents occur within less than five minutes. Because drowning happens very quickly and quietly, a responsible adult should always be designated to specifically watching children and inexperienced swimmers in or around water and not be distracted by other activities, even if a lifeguard is present.
By taking part in formal swimming lessons, one can learn valuable swimming and safety skills. There are many options in our area including private in-home lessons, swim centers, community pools, and programs for low-income families that include options for swimmers of all levels and abilities.
Additionally, learning CPR can save lives in many different emergency circumstances and vastly improves outcomes for drowning victims when their lives are hanging in the balance. I also urge you to take a moment to visit “Get Parenting Tips” from the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services at www.getparentingtips.com/toddlers/safety/water-safety-for-kids. In addition to their excellent preventive materials, there is also much information on how we can collectively work together to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our youth by exploring many topics impacting them today. Let’s always take care of one another like Texans know how to do!
Our lakes, rivers and coastal waters are wonderful opportunities for us to spend quality time with our friends and family during the summer so long as we are safe in our actions. I urge each of you to join me in doing two things: consider enjoying our many public waters across this state; and secondly, refresh your water safety knowledge so you too can be prepared to help another return home safely. No matter if you are supervising your children, friends, or simply enjoying the water as an adult, water safety and prevention efforts are paramount for everyone.
Also, Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there! Being a dad to one of your own or a father figure in many other wonderful ways – stepdad, adopted, foster, uncle, grandparent, coach, teacher, mentor – we have the incredible blessing of impacting youth and guiding young minds in character development that impacts generations. It’s one of the highest callings and greatest rewards in life. May we always nurture our loved ones and embolden them in leading by example by tackling the challenges that lay ahead with wisdom and discernment.
It is an honor to serve our community in the Texas House of Representatives, and I welcome your feedback on the issues important to you. If you would like to share a thought, please call 972.724.8477, email [email protected] or follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.