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Fire officials urge holiday water safety

By Jason A. Smith

As area families prepare to enjoy Memorial Day weekend activities, local fire and emergency officials are encouraging parents and guardians to monitor children's water activities.

The Henry County Fire Capt. Sabrina Puckett said taking precautionary measures can prevent drownings during the holiday period.

"Practicing safety can prevent an enjoyable holiday from becoming a day of tragedy," said Puckett. "Drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional death among children ages 1 to 4 years, and children 10 to 14 years, so we encourage parents to watch their children closely while in and around any body of water."

The fire department released a statement, this week, further underscoring the need for water safety. The fire department said accidents often happen when people are not adequately prepared when they go near a body of water.

"Always actively supervise children in and around water," the statement read. "Don't leave, even for a moment. Stay where you can see, hear and reach kids in water. Avoid talking on the phone, preparing a meal, reading, and other distractions."

The fire department also reminded residents to allow their children to swim in designated and supervised areas only, and teach kids never to swim alone.

The department said children should not dive into water less than nine feet deep, and no one should dive into any body of water which they cannot see the bottom of.

The agency also promoted using four-sided isolation fencing, at least five feet high, around all pools and spas, as well as pool alarms, covers or locks, to keep children safe when adults are not around.