GREENSBORO, N.C. — Another Triad drowning death has made water safety a top priority ahead of the summer season.
A teenage boy drowned at Belews Lake Wednesday night. Officials said two families went out swimming. The victim swam too far without a life jacket and drowned.
This type of incident can happen to anyone. If you see someone struggling to swim, your first instinct will likely be to jump in and try to help them. The Red Cross strongly advises against this. It says you should try throwing something to the person struggling, so they have something to float on. Jumping in the water puts yourself at risk if you don't have proper training.
Parents play a big role in keeping their children safe while swimming. Safekids.org said parents should try teaching their child how to float before swim.
When the child does learn how to swim, parents should keep kids at an arm's length away, according to the site. They should also avoid distractions. Drowning often happens silently, so stay alert.
A racial disparity in access to swim lessons and ability creates another risk for pool safety. 64% of Black children have poor or no swimming ability, according the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. 40% of white kids either have limited or no swimming skills.
The CPSC attributed the gap to limited swim lessons offered in communities of color. Since the parents never learned how to swim, they could never teach their children.
"Typically growing up in the African American community, there is not always going to be a pool down the street or in your neighborhood or around the corner that you can go swim at," Renee Hicks Walker, the former aquatics director at Haynes Taylor Memorial YMCA, said. "I think its important for everyone to find a pool and learn the basics."
Several places in Greensboro, like the Greensboro Aquatic Center, local YMCAs and the city offer swim lessons.
Summer also means it's time to give a refresher on boat safety. The North Carolina Wildlife Commission reported hundreds of boating accidents each year between 1981 and 2019. At least 10 people died every year during that time frame.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving launched its annual campaign to cut down on alcohol-related crashes in May.
MADD National President Alex Otte said she got hit by a boat driver who is accused of being more than three times the legal time.As a result, she experienced life-altering injuries. including a traumatic brain injury, a shattered jaw, several broken bones, and the loss of her right leg.
“Your choices have consequences, and often times those consequences are for innocent people," Otte said.
In North Carolina, boating while impaired could land someone a $250 fine. That number can go up based on the type of incident.
Some officials believe the penalty should be on par with driving while impaired. If someone gets caught drinking and driving a car, they could face a penalty as high as $4,000 and up to two years in prison.