Recent increase of deaths by drowning calls attention to water safety

Recent increase of deaths by drowning calls attention to water safety
Photo provided by MGN Online.

POSTED: Wednesday, August 7, 2013 - 3:30pm

UPDATED: Wednesday, August 7, 2013 - 6:47pm

If it seems as though there have been more drowning deaths this summer than in years past, you’re assumption is correct. According to the East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner, there have been as many drowning deaths in our parish this year as there were all of last year. 

So far 2013 has seen five deaths due to accidental drowning. Their ages range from 1-year-old to 54-years-old. In 2012 there were 5 total, and in 2011 there were 4 total.

“With children, the two contributing factors are lack of supervision and not knowing how to swim,” Dr. William “Bo” Clark, East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner, said. “In adult cases, the two contributing factors are environmental elements such as swift currents, or intoxication.”

Three recent drowning deaths, however, happened outside of East Baton Rouge Parish.

The most recent happened in East Feliciana Parish, which is the first case the Sheriff’s Office has investigated this year. On Tuesday, Aug. 6, Martha Dartt, 38, of Denham Springs, died while swimming with her three children in the Amite River near a friend’s house.

“The 9-year-old child swam out too far and was in a deep area,” Sgt. Kevin Garig explained. “The woman got to the child and pushed the child back to safety, but she was not able to get back.”

Sgt. Garig noted that Dartt was not a strong swimmer.

In Livingston Parish, Nick Kissner, 14, of Port Allen, drowned at the Cajun Lagoon water park. The teen was visiting the newly-opened summer attraction with his church group.

"I just don't want this to happen to anybody else," John Kissner, father, said. "I lived for him. I just never dreamed that it would end this way.”

The third case also happened in Livingston Parish at a Tiki Tubing on May 27. The victim, Jacques Pierre Demare, 21, of Folsom, drowned in the Upper Amite near the Watson-area.

Although accidental drownings are more common during the summer months, they can happened at any time. Here are some tips provided by the American Red Cross for water safety.

Make Water Safety Your Priority

  • Swim in designated areas supervised by lifeguards.
  • Always swim with a buddy; do not allow anyone to swim alone. Even at a public pool or a lifeguarded beach, use the buddy system!
  • Ensure that everyone in the family learns to swim well. Enroll in age-appropriate Red Cross water orientation and Learn-to-Swim courses.
  • Never leave a young child unattended near water and do not trust a child’s life to another child; teach children to always ask permission to go near water.
  • Have young children or inexperienced swimmers wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets around water, but do not rely on life jackets alone.
  • Establish rules for your family and enforce them without fail. For example, set limits based on each person’s ability, do not let anyone play around drains and suction fittings, and do not allow swimmers to hyperventilate before swimming under water or have breath-holding contests.
  • Even if you do not plan on swimming, be cautious around natural bodies of water including ocean shoreline, rivers and lakes. Cold temperatures, currents and underwater hazards can make a fall into these bodies of water dangerous.
  • If you go boating, wear a life jacket! Most boating fatalities occur from drowning.
  • Avoid alcohol use. Alcohol impairs judgment, balance and coordination; affects swimming and diving skills; and reduces the body’s ability to stay warm.

Prevent Unsupervised Access to the Water

  • Install and use barriers around your home pool or hot tub. Safety covers and pool alarms should be added as additional layers of protection.
  • Ensure that pool barriers enclose the entire pool area, are at least 4-feet high with gates that are self-closing, self-latching and open outward, and away from the pool. The latch should be high enough to be out of a small child’s reach.
  • If you have an above-ground or inflatable pool, remove access ladders and secure the safety cover whenever the pool is not in use.
  • Remove any structures that provide access to the pool, such as outdoor furniture, climbable trees, decorative walls and playground equipment.
  • Keep toys that are not in use away from the pool and out of sight. Toys can attract young children to the pool.

Maintain Constant Supervision

  • Actively supervise kids whenever around the water—even if lifeguards are present. Do not just drop your kids off at the public pool or leave them at the beach—designate a responsible adult to supervise.
  • Always stay within arm’s reach of young children and avoid distractions when supervising children around water.

Know What to Do in an Emergency

  • If a child is missing, check the water first. Seconds count in preventing death or disability.
  • Know how and when to call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number.
  • If you own a home pool or hot tub, have appropriate equipment, such as reaching or throwing equipment, a cell phone, life jackets and a first aid kit.
  • Enroll in Red Cross home pool safety, water safety, first aid and CPR/AED courses to learn how to prevent and respond to emergencies.

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