Keep Safety First During Fourth Of July Celebrations On The Water

Sunday, July 4th 2010, 11:41 am
By: News On 6

By Jennifer Broaddus, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reports eight people have drowned in Tulsa area lakes since May. None of those victims were wearing a personal flotation device.

A 7-year-old boy drowned Saturday in Lake Fort Gibson at Sequoyah State Park in Cherokee County. It is unknown at this time if he was wearing a personal flotation device.

7/4/2010  Related Story: OHP: Boy Drowns At Lake Fort Gibson

Safety officials want the thousands of people who are spending the Fourth of July weekend by the pool or lake to keep safety in mind.

It was this time last year Jenna Bennett lost her fiancé.

"Not every man would do what he did. He's my hero, he always will be," said Bennett.

Bennett's 8-year-old daughter was swimming in the streams of the Chickasaw National Recreation Area when she began to struggle. That's when Bennett's fiancé, Gregory Barker, went out to help her. He saved the girl's life, but lost his own.

At Reed Park in Tulsa, kids are learning the skills to prevent accidents like that one from ever happening. Instructors teach kids how to float, tread water and help a struggling swimmer.

"The swimmer may not be a strong swimmer themselves, so you have to evaluate your own skills and if you are not a trained rescuer, it may actually put you in more danger trying to rescue someone in distress," said Kaylene Keener, Director of Community Preparedness.

The American Red Cross teaches the importance of throw, don't go. For example, use a buoy or a towel, anything you can find, get low to the ground and reach out to your swimmer.

Instructors also teach the importance of life jackets.

"Life jackets are there for a reason. They are not just meant to be in the boat," said Keener. "They are meant to be worn. It doesn't do any good to have them unless they're on and clipped."