Preventing and handling a drowning crisis this summer at the lake

Memorial Day means more people on the water and an increased risk of drowning.

Saturday in Trigg County, Kentucky we had our first drowning death of the year in our area. Trigg County Public Information Officer James Flood said 52-year-old Michael Bussell somehow ended up in the water and his 13-year-old son Nydarion Bussell jumped in after him. Neither had life-jackets on and both drowned.

By law, at age 13 Nydarion did not have to wear a life jacket. Only children 12 and under have to wear a life jacket in Kentucky and Tennessee, in Illinois the age is 13, and its 7 years of age or younger in Missouri.

Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Sergeant Tony Dunker said on a boat you should wear a life-jacket if you have any hesitation about your swimming skills. He also said it’s important they fit properly.

“If you put the wrong jacket on it’s almost like not having one at all. It’s not going to do what it’s designed to do,” Sgt. Dunker said.

He said the orange life jackets will help bring you face up in you fall in- which is what you want to try and do if you’re struggling in the water.

Sgt. Dunker suggests keeping a throwable or life jacket handy in case someone falls in. However, he said be cautious if you decide to jump in to save someone, wearing a life jacket won’t allow you to dive in and without it on puts you more at risk.

“It’s kind of a catch 22. If they’re on top of the water and struggling you can jump in with a jacket on and try and save them, but if they’ve already gone under you’re just about going to have to dive under to try and find them and unless you’re experienced in that it’s hard to get them back up,” Sgt. Dunker said.

Vationer Molly Turner said even as an experienced swimmer, she keeps her life jacket on all the time at the lake.

“It’s the split moment when you panic that you need a life vest. So you can’t, you know, really you don’t have like 3 minutes to prepare for the trauma,” Turner said.

Turner said she hopes her family and family will never have to deal with a drowning.

“I really care about them, and it’s just something to be out on the lake having fun and have something bad happen would just be horrible,” Turner said.

Sergeant Dunker said most drowning’s he’s dealt with involve alcohol. He said people should watch how much they drink because it can have a stronger effect on the water and that boaters should never drink and drive.

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