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David Mittleman
David Mittleman
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Lansing Area Drownings Highlight Water Safety Awareness

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We are barely past the midway mark in June and already there have been a number of water-related tragedies in the Lansing area. Unfortunately, simple precautionary measures could have avoided some of these tragedies.

A 60-year-old Grand Ledge drowned while fishing in the Grand River near Moores Park. Earlier this month a 28-year-old kayaker disappeared on the Grand River in Delhi Township. There was also the drowning death of a 14-year-old boy in a Holt public beach with no lifeguard on duty. Sadly, I wrote about the dangers of not having a lifeguard on duty at public beaches when it became apparent local municipalities would try to plug budget holes by risking public safety. In the beginning of the month, a 2-year-old boy was hospitalized when he was found not breathing in a wading pool.

Officials believe the Grand River is demonstrating stronger river currents and higher water levels due to all the rain in the past months. Local fishermen also concurred with that opinion.

East Lansing fire marshall and water safety expert, Bob Pratt, said that many people overestimate their swimming ability and don’t use life jackets. Nevertheless, he felt most of these drowning deaths could be avoided. Many local governments, including the city of Lansing, offer swimming classes available to the public.

Being able to detect someone who is drowning may not be as easy as you’d think. TV and movies have instilled in our consciousness the image of someone thrashing in the water for survival. Pratt, however, indicated that most people who are truly drowning can’t lift their arms above water without their head sinking under water and most don’t have enough air to yell.

Someone who is drowning may only be able to stay above water 15 to 45 seconds. What you should do if you see someone who is drowning is to try and get them something that floats, like a styrofoam cooler, a plastic cooler, or a buoy. Make sure you or someone calls 911 for help.