Safety first in the water

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 22, 2004

One doesn’t have far to drive in Suffolk to find a lake or river, many of which are a fine place to boat or have a nice picnic on the banks. But if someone should go into the water, it can be a dangerous place. This year alone, two youths have already lost their lives in Suffolk waters.

That’s why the Suffolk Chapter of the American Red Cross (ARC) is doing all it can to educate local children about the importance of water safety. On Friday afternoon at the Cypress Pool, the ARC held a Water Safety Day to teach kids about staying safe in and around pools, rivers, and other wet areas.

&uot;Suffolk is around so much water, and it only takes a little bit for a child to drown,&uot; said health and safety coordinator Lisa Harrell. &uot;We’re trying to spread the knowledge of rules to follow around water.&uot; For example, she said, children should never swim alone, and always listen to the lifeguard. If they should experience a cramp while swimming, it’s important not to panic, and gently rub the affected area until it relaxes. If they get caught in a current, they should look for something to grab onto.

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The class gave even more examples of what the ARC had taught them. &uot;You should always jump into water feet first,&uot; said Tre’ Myrick, 11, &uot;because if you dive, you could crack your head on the bottom.&uot;

If someone is in a pool, floundering a few feet from the side, said William Brown, 9, &uot;You lie on your stomach and reach for them. Don’t go on your knees, because you could get pulled in, and you can’t reach as far.&uot;

&uot;I learned that you should even wear a lifejacket in a deep pool,&uot; said Kendrick Lee, 10. &uot;You should always look for a lifeguard so there’s someone to save you.&uot;

In a few years, Jahmaeshah Cummings might become a pool supervisor herself. &uot;I really want to be a lifeguard,&uot; said the eight-year-old. &uot;I want to dive in the pool and save people when I’m grown.&uot;