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Renew emphasis on water safety

Posted: April 10, 2012 - 11:09pm

With warm spring days arriving earlier than usual this year, it’s inevitable that our county’s many water features already would be attracting visitors.

Unfortunately, that also means there will be tragedies like Sunday afternoon’s death of Uriel Diaz. But it shouldn’t be that way.

Diaz, 15, fits the sad profile of just about every recent drowning victim in Columbia County: a young man, who couldn’t swim, and yet who wasn’t wearing a life jacket. For Diaz, all it took for the North Augusta teen to drown was for him to fall off of a float in water at Clarks Hill Lake’s West Dam Recreation Area.

The water wasn’t even deeper than he was tall. But without a life vest, and not knowing how to swim, Diaz panicked and drowned. Bystanders were unable to rescue him as he thrashed in the murky water and went under, and Columbia County’s Dive Rescue team later recovered his body not far off shore.

We’ve said it before: In a county that uses a sailboat as its symbol, the ubiquitous nature of water demands that we put a renewed emphasis on water safety. The American Red Cross and the Family Y periodically offer water safety courses; other organizations should step forward to make such classes more widely available. It’s critical as the summer season approaches.

Accidents are inevitable. But homeowners are required to fence their pools and supervise swimmers; certainly our community could do a little more to make our biggest swimming pool safer.

We must make water safety a priority. We don’t need to lose any more children to such a preventable cause.

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