School Graduations Could Bring Water Accidents
by Tim Smalley
Each year in late May and early June there are often reports of young people involved in high school graduation festivities, who either drown or are seriously injured in water accidents. Unfortunately, most could have been predicted and prevented with adult guidance and supervision. A common scenario is a dozen 17 and 18 year olds are getting ready to go to one of their parent’s lakeshore cabin. A wink and a nod is given when the question is asked “There won’t be any beer, will there?”, and the stage is set for a tragedy.
A boy dives off the end of a dock without checking the depth before he goes in. The water is only three feet deep and his head hits the bottom fracturing his cervical spine and he drowns. Three boys grab a canoe out of a shed and head out on a moonlight cruise without life vests. Several hundred yards from shore, the alcohol-impaired paddlers capsize the canoe and only one of the three makes it back to shore.
As a Minesota DNR boat and water safety specialist, I have dedicated my career to advocate for water safety. Parents should ensure their graduates are adequately supervised and that the responsible adult at the gathering understands that you do not want your teen to consume alcohol when participating in water related activities. And no one should be allowed near any kind of boat, canoe or personal watercraft without wearing a life jacket.
If graduation celebrations are taking place in and/or near a waterfront be sure to:
- Avoid diving head-first from docks and swim rafts.
- Provide adult supervision to ensure that there is no alcohol consumption by underage attendees.
- Life jackets should be worn by passengers and operators of any kind of watercraft.