Water safety skills necessary in South Mississippi

Water safety skills necessary in South Mississippi
Source: WDAM

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The holiday weekend turned into tragedy for one family after an 11-year-old boy drowned Saturday at Little Black Creek Campground in Lamar County.

Lamar County Sheriff Danny Rigel said the boy, identified as Dakon Quinn from Jackson, was walking along the dock where his family and friends were fishing when he fell into the water.  Campers told WDAM 7 crews family members told them the boy couldn't swim.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, there are over 3,000 drowning cases every year in the United States.  Seventy percent of drowning incidents happen when a person didn't even expect to be in or near a pool or body of water at the time.

"These things can happen, but they can be avoided and that's what we want - prevention," said Director of Competitive Aquatics at the YMCA, Corey Coon-Cassily.

The CDC reports drowning is the second leading cause of death for children.  In over 3,000 reported drowning cases, about one in five of the victims are children 14 and younger.

"Things can happen at the drop of a hat," Coon-Cassily said. "You can be doing everything right, not planning on swimming and then you fall into a river, stream and some of the undertows can take the kids off pretty quickly. That's why you need to know what to do in a situation like that."

Coon-Cassily said the there is too many bodies of water in Mississippi to not be aware of water safety skilled.  The most important tip for everyone to remember is to always stay calm.

"Most people panic and a lot of these drownings happen in two, three feet of water," Coon-Cassily said.  "They get that feeling of drowning when their face goes underwater and they panic. First thing we tell people is roll on your back, float on your back, you can breath, regain stability, and try to find the land."

Coon-Cassily said a number of parents are worried for their kids when it comes to swim lessons, because the parent may have had a traumatic situation with water.  He said it's just as important for a child to overcome that fear and feel comfortable in the water as it is for adults.

"You as a parent want to have the confidence you can go in the water to help your child," Coon-Cassily said. "With neighborhood pools, lakes and streams, you don't want to be regulated on the land and not able to help you child."

Easy swimming tips:

  • Never swim alone.  There should always be at least two people if you are going to be swimming or near a body of water.
  • Always keep your eyes on your child.  Coon-Cassily said a parent can't assume their child will be okay if swimming with other children.
  • Swim in pool or area monitored by a lifeguard.
  • If there is not a lifeguard, make sure children or adults have proper flotation devices.

Coon-Cassily said the YMCA in Hattiesburg and Petal offer swim classes for all ages, including "Mommy and Me" and family programs.

"It's a great time in Mississippi for the summer, we want to avoid any tragic accidents," Coon-Cassily said. "So the best thing is preparation and mindset before hand. Get your kids into lessons, learn how to swim yourself and always be aware and vigilant."