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Tupelo City Officials Stress Water Safety

Posted by Allie Martin | July 03, 2012 / 04:56pm | Local News, Health
TUPELO, MISS. (WCBI) - As kids and parents frolic in the Veteran's Park Splash Pad, yellow caution tape blocks access to the area where a 7 year old child drowned while swimming with family and friends Friday afternoon.

Tupelo Park and Rec director Don Lewis had the area cordoned off, when he learned that kids were swimming in the lake, two days after the tragedy.

"I got a call from one of my supervisors , we were trying to keep an eye on the lake and we still found people in the water, parents were there, but they were in that area, so we decided to caution it off, just to remind parents to keep an eye on this area, don't go over there," Lewis said.

His office has received more reports this summer of people
wading or swimming in the lakes at Veterans Park and Ballard Park, than in previous years.  He points out that there are city pools, manned by lifeguards.

"We have two swimming pools in town that are open all during the
summer and we encourage that use," he said.

Realizing that Mississippi has one of the highest rates of drownings
in the nation, Tupelo Parks and Rec and the school district , began
offering the "Learn to Swim" course for all second graders two years ago.

"Because of the situation in Mississippi we wanted to get people not to be afraid of the water,  we wanted to teach them how to survive if they fell in water or got in water over their head," Lewis said.

Since Friday's incident, some have called for fences around lakes in city parks, but officials say that would not be neither practical, nor aesthetically appealing.  Bottom line, experts say it's vital for kids to know how to swim and to be supervised constantly, whenever they are near water.
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