Six teenagers, ranging in age from 13 to 18, died today while wading in a familiar spot of shallow water in a river in northwest Louisiana.
How can that happen?
Apparently, the victims were playing in the shallows and didn't know that there was a sudden drop-off that deepened to about 20 feet. They stepped off the ledge, sank and drowned. According to the report by Shreveport Assistant Fire Chief Fred Sanders, the teens were accompanied by some adults, but neither the kids nor the adults knew how to swim.
It might be too obvious, but I'm going to say it anyway — don't play in the water if you don't know how to swim. That's like saying, don't take a car out on the freeway if you don't know how to drive. Or don't try to fly an airplane if you don't know how. But, no matter how obvious it is, here we have the tragic loss of 6 young people who died because they didn't know how to keep themselves alive in deep water.
There is a water survival technique known as "drownproofing" that everyone should learn — even those who consider themselves to be competent swimmers. The reason is that, if you're suddenly tossed into the water a great distance from shore, you're probably not going to be able to swim to safety before becoming exhausted. By using the drownproofing technique, you extend your survival time. And for those who are non-swimmers, this is their only hope of getting out alive.
Rather than attempt to summarize the technique here, I'm going to give you a link to www.drownproofing.com where you can study the method. If you want more detailed information about this water survival technique, buy the book at www.amazon.com/Drownproofing-New-Technique-Water-Safety/dp/0132208067/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1280861381&sr=1-2
If you are a non-swimmer, sign up for swimming lessons at your local Y or some other organization that teaches these things. But by all means, learn the drownproofing method.
If you already know how to swim, add drownproofing to your skills.
If you are a parent or grandparent, please encourage your children and grandchildren to learn to swim. Teach them the buddy system, and get involved yourself by being part of the buddy system for the youth when they're in the water. Use flotation devices, if necessary, and use caution about where wading and swimming take place. These are life-preserving skills, and you never know when you're going to absolutely need them — not just for fun and recreation, but for survival.