Local youths learn safety in the water

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 29, 2002

&uot;What did we talk about yesterday?&uot; Jo Ann Kittrell asks her class.

&uot;We talked about not swimming in water that you can’t see through,&uot; pipes a youngster.

&uot;That’s right,&uot; Kittrell ans-wers, &uot;and why shouldn’t you do that? What could be in that water?&uot;

Email newsletter signup

The answers come up in a flurry. &uot;Glass!&uot; &uot;Sharks!&uot; &uot;Sti-ngrays!&uot; &uot;Seaweed!&uot;

&uot;Seaweed? Why could that be dangerous?&uot;

&uot;Because it could wrap around you and pull you down. If it gets on you, you need to stay calm and rip it off!&uot;

Kittrell is teaching a water safety program at the Saint Mary’s Christian Church. All last week, roughly 20 elementary school students learned about never swimming alone, always following the rules of a neighborhood pool, and the qualifications of a good floating device.

Kittrell’s mother, Jo Ann Blevins, who recently began her 13th year of directing religious education at the church, learned about the program earlier this year. &uot;The Red Cross (who sponsors the class) sent me some information about this class, and I decided to incorporate it in the Summer Bible school program,&uot; says Blevins. &uot;Every year, we try to expand our summer class a bit.&uot;

A former Davis Lake Campground lifeguard, Kittrell was surprised by the children’s knowledge of safety around lakes and pools. &uot;These kids know a lot more than I thought they would.&uot; At the end of the program, each participant was given a certificate of completion.

The kids are learning what to do if a friend were to fall into the water. &uot;If you’re on a rowboat, you could extend an oar out to them,&uot; explains the instructor. &uot;You could throw them a milk bottle, because it would float. Arms are the last thing that you could ever try, because even if you’re careful, you could still get pulled in.&uot;

To demonstrate the dangers of hypothermia, she brings out a large bucket filled with ice water. &uot;I’m going to toss these into the bucket,&uot; she says, holding up a handful of pennies. &uot;You can reach into the bucket and get them out.&uot;

Though her charges eagerly grab for the money, their reaction quickly changes. &uot;My hand’s really cold now!&uot; exclaims a small girl.

&uot;So is mine!&uot; says another. &uot;It hurts, and I can’t hardly move it!&uot;

&uot;Well,&uot; says Kittrell, &uot;imagine if your whole body felt like that!&uot;