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Red Cross offers tips for safety around water

With summer here, more and more families will be heading to the water for summertime fun. The American Red Cross is stepping up efforts to prevent drownings and encourage water safety.
Every day, an average of 10 people die in the U.S. from unintentional drowning — with 20 percent of them children 14 or younger, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition, for every child who dies from drowning, another five receive emergency department care for nonfatal submersion injuries.
Recently, several young people have drowned in area lakes, including Jaquez D’Andre Hunter-Cathey, 19, who attended Salisbury High School. He drowned in Mountain Island Lake in Gaston County, where he was a senior in high school. An 18-year-old from Charlotte, Richard Edward Maxwell III, drowned when he and friends, floating on a log in Tuckertown Lake, spotted a snake in the water. Maxwell went under the water and never came up. Another 18-year-old drowned last week in Lake Twitty.
“Watch children around water, no matter how skilled they might be and no matter how shallow the water,” said Angela A. Broome, regional chief executive officer for the American Red Cross Carolina Piedmont Region. “Try to keep younger children within an arm’s length. Equip children or inexperienced swimmers with U.S. Coast Guard-approved flotation devices, but never rely on those as a substitute for parental supervision.”
Almost 50 percent of drownings occur not long after the children left an adult. Many children who drowned were out of sight for less than five minutes and in the care of one or both parents at the time. For children to remain safe in the 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.
• Never leave children alone when they are near the water. They should be constantly supervised.
• If someone has a pool, they should secure the area with appropriate barriers.
• For a backyard pool, have appropriate equipment, such as reaching or throwing equipment, a cell phone, life jackets and a first aid kit.
• Young children should never be left unattended near water, teach children to always ask permission to go near water.
• Avoid distractions when supervising children around water.
• If a child is missing, check the water first. Seconds count in preventing death or disability.
The Red Cross urges parents to enroll their children in swim lessons, and follow steps to remain safe around the water. To register for swim lessons, contact your local YMCA branches and pools or find out where Red Cross water safety courses are being offered.

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