I remember being notified Pat’s family had arrived. I left the hospital room in Idaho Falls, and made my way towards the waiting room. I had about a million questions, and wanted answers. I still didn’t know how my daughter ended up in the canal with 10 adults present, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t angry. I opened the door and came to an abrupt stop. There in front of me were my in-laws standing in a tight group. They were filthy, covered in mud and dirt. Some were wet, and their clothes seemed stiff and ragged. Bruises and scratches were noticeable. They looked exhausted, and from first glance I could tell they truly had been to hell and back. Right then and there, my heart softened.
When children drown it’s horrific. But when children drown in bodies of fresh water (lakes, rivers, canals, pond, etc.) the water isn’t clear and contained. Most times, family/friends have to literally search (wade, swim, feel) for the child in the water. Most times while searching, people aren’t even sure if they are in the water. If found, there’s a good chance they aren’t close to a hospital, which creates another challenge. Pat and I weren’t there, but family members were wading/swimming in the canal searching for her. I was told they split sections up so they wouldn’t miss anything. One brother-in-law ran a mile and half following the canal hoping to find her, until he came across Mike and Jeff Call performing CPR on Preslee. Pat’s stepmom once told me about searching in the canal, praying they would find Preslee on land somewhere, when she heard the life support helicopter, and saw it land in a field across town. Family members still have a tough time talking about it.
May is known as water safety month, and three other bloggers and myself hope to bring a little more awareness to this topic. Kate Jones, from Our Best Bites, created this incredible printable, sharing water safety tips that were compiled with a swim instructor.
Our hope is this printable will circulate and that we can get this into the hands of as many parents as possible as the summer months quickly approach. Hoping that it may even save a life.
There were 10 adults there that night with Preslee, and from what I’ve been told, it took a couple coincidences to turn a few heads, and seconds later Preslee was gone. People usually talk about water safety at pools, but I rarely hear people talk about water safety around open water. I’m here to remind you to be extremely cautious this summer, it really does only take a couple seconds. Out of all the tips listed above in the printable, I want to focus on one:
There should be a designated “child watcher” who is in charge of given child or children (Never more than three).
After losing Preslee, this is something Pat and I ALWAYS do now. We never assume someone else is watching our child. My in-laws still live in the same house, with the same canal in the backyard, and during the summer months it seems like everyone tends to gravitate outside. Pat and I always specify who is in charge of Ledger, and if one of us goes inside, we let the other know they need to watch Ledger. I’m not sure how we’ll handle three boys running around in the future, it gives me anxiety just thinking about it, but hopefully when the time comes we’ll be able to figure something out.
As bloggers, who have been affected by drowning, we hope to educate instead of frighten parents about water. It seems like some people expect our family to fear water for the rest of my life, and instill the same fear into my children. Instead, Patrick and I hope to teach our boys all that we can about water safety. We want them to understand the potential danger that surrounds water, which will hopefully teach them to be cautious, but we never want them to fear it.
If any of you are hoping to help your toddler feel more comfortable in the water, here is a video put together by the instructor who taught a mommy and me swim class Ledger and I attended. Simple activities are shown that will help toddlers learn to swim. The second part of the class will be added this summer after she films during the summer.If you wish to read the other blogger’s stories with drowning, listed below are their blogs. Kate wrote a post about water safety last week, and Tiffany and Andrae will follow in the weeks to come.