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'It only takes a moment': Lifesaving water safety reminders for holiday weekend

keystone lake
Posted at 4:30 PM, Jul 05, 2024

TULSA, Okla. — The 2024 Fourth of July was a tragic day for many Oklahomans.

Six people lost their lives in drowning accidents.

One on Grand Lake, one at a pool in Tulsa, one at Lake Thunderbird, one at a water park at Colcord and two at Keystone Lake.

Drowning is the leading cause of death for 1 to 4-year-olds in Oklahoma, according to the State Department of Health. At least one minor died in one of these incidents.

“Scary thing about drowning is it’s often silent, and it happens very quickly," said Andy Little with the Tulsa Fire Department. "When one of those events happens, you can’t take that back often. It’s incredibly sad, and it potentially changes your life forever.”

Casey Shockley and her family were out on the water the day after, casting a line and hoping for a good catch.

Shockley uses a unique strategy to monitor her children when they are near bodies of water.

“When they were smaller, it was a whistle just so I’d know where they were, and if they’d stop whistling, I would pay attention," said Shockley. "It's kind of like when your kids are in the house, and they’re rambunctious, and you know exactly what’s going on, and then it gets quiet, and you’re like, 'Wait, what are they doing?'”

Shockley said her family has always been a water family.

Whether it's fishing or kayaking, it's their way of spending time together.

But respecting the water and being aware of what's happening around her at all times is an important part of Shockley's lake time routine.

“Paying attention to your people," said Shockley. "The water is a very dangerous place, you only need a teaspoon to drown. That’s very serious, so you need to be serious.”

There are so many precautions one can take when spending time in or around the water.

“Those life jackets are very important, especially if your children can’t swim," said Little. "If you’re at the lake, you should wear one anyways because the water’s not… you can’t see once they go underwater.”

He also recommended researching the best-colored swimsuits for your kids to wear, as some are more visible under the water than others.

Little said it's critical to have a 'water watcher,' or a designated adult who keeps a close and focused eye on anyone enjoying water activities.

While Shockley knows it's a parent's responsibility to watch their kids at all times anyway, she said it couldn't hurt to have extra patrols around the lakes—especially during a busy holiday weekend.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve been confronted by someone you know, ‘Are you following the law? Are you doing what’s right? Do you have your life jackets?’ that kind of thing," she said. "If we could, it would be nice to have a little more people out on the water watching other people.”


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