June 22, 2011 12:32:00 PM
Every year, more than 830 children, ages 14 and under, drown.
During the summer months, the time of year when we''re most likely to be in the water, drowning deaths among children spike by a rate of 89 percent over the rest of the year, according to safekids.org.
These are scary statistics -- especially in an area blessed with the abundance of rivers, lakes and other natural and manmade swimming holes we have in the area.
In recent weeks, at least three people have drowned locally: Marvin Dean Rowan, 54, of Shelby, drowned in the pool at the University Motel on Highway 182 in Starkville, earlier this month. Mississippi State University student Sammy Lee Jackson, 19, of Rolling Fork, was found at the bottom of the swimming pool at his apartment complex on Louisville Street in Starkville in mid-May. Two weeks ago, 62-year-old Hugh Buckelew drowned in the Luxapalila Creek in Columbus.
Like buckling their seat belts, teaching children to swim is an important and potentially life-saving safety precaution.
With a plethora of local options, there is no excuse for not getting kids enrolled in a swimming class. Some programs even offer discounts and scholarships for those who can''t afford the lessons.
YMCAs in Columbus, Caledonia and New Hope are offering swim classes all summer, as is the Mississippi University for Women recreation center and both Moncrief and J.L. King pools in Starkville.
Splish-splashing in a pool or river is fun and a great way to beat the heat, until someone gets hurt, or worse. This is where water safety and swimming classes come in.
Encouraging children not to swim without supervision also is important. But let''s face it: Kids are curious and impulsive. That pool or swimming hole might be too much for them to resist, especially in the heat of summer. Additionally, in nine of 10 child drownings, the child is reported to have been under adult supervision.
And for those of us who are adults and do not know how to swim, it''s not too late.
Learn to swim: