Staying safe on water as drownings, near drownings on rise in MN

- This summer we've seen a disturbing trend of drownings, near drownings and water injuries. 

Many have been children, but statistically, men between 20 and 60 are most likely to die in boating accidents in Minnesota.        

The recent extreme heat is sending more people to the water. 

"It's really scary. It's been a scary so far this summer," said Scott Taylor of the Abbey's Hope Foundation. 

Taylor is an advocate for swimming safety and father of Abbey Taylor, who died after a pool drain accident 10 years ago. Abbey inspired the foundation and the "Water Watchdog" idea. When adults wear a tag, they vow to watch kids in the water, uninterrupted. No phone, no bathroom breaks and no runs for food or drinks.

"Many people treat the lifeguards as a babysitter and first line of defense," Scott said. "I would say you are the first line of defense they are the second line of defense."

Another safety tool is learning to swim. Abbey's Hope has provided 20,000 kids with free lessons. It's promotes new safety drains in pools and warns parents that a fence around their backyard pool doesn't necessarily prevent tragedy. 

"We hear about a lot of young children who open that glass door and go out to get a toy and  they're gone," Scott said. 

Another lifesaving tool? The life jacket.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources says 90 percent of drowning victims in the state are not wearing them. 

"10 Minnesota lives could be saved every year with them,” said Lisa Dugan, the recreational safety coordinator with the DNR. 

Minnesota law requires kids under 10 to wear them a moving boat and the key is wearing them properly. Life jackets should say they are U.S. Coast Guard-approved. They also need to be snug and not lift above the ears if pulled up. 

Visit abbeyshope.org for more water safety information.

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