Drownings in the state trend upwards, officials encourage more use of life jackets

Drownings on the rise, officials encourage more adults and kids to wear life jackets
Published: Jun. 25, 2021 at 5:36 PM EDT
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BARREN RIVER LAKE (WBKO) - Drownings in the state are on track to surpass last year’s total.

Meanwhile, members of the Barren County Rescue Dive Team say the click of a life jacket’s buckle can be the difference between life or death- especially for a child.

“Any loss of life is devastating, but when it’s a child, it’s horrible,” said Anita May, Deputy Director of the Glasgow-Barren County Emergency Management. May is also a member of the dive team.

As drownings in the state trend upwards, the Barren County Rescue Dive Team is reminding folks about being safe on the water-- whatever you may be doing.

“We want you to come out and have fun, enjoy yourself. But at the end of the day, we want you to go home to your family,” said Kevin Poynter, Barren County Rescue Dive Team.

According to Kentucky Fish and Wildlife, in 2019 there were 38 drownings in the state. In 2020, there were 46. Halfway through the year, there have already been 28 drownings.

“The comment I hear the most often is, and they were such a good swimmer,” said May.

Officials say the best way to prevent accidents or drowning includes not only wearing life jackets but wearing the proper ones.

“Kayak jackets are cut out on the side, like this. So when you put them on, you don’t have anything on the side to obstruct your paddling at all. And you can wear it all day long,” explained May holding a kayak jacket.

May adds that properly fitted life jackets are also key as well.

“If we got a jacket that fits correctly-- when we pull it up, it’s not moving. It’s good and tight. So when we can snug it up, we got plenty of room to snug it up here to make it even tighter and fit.”

Officials say that boaters, kayakers and swimmers should avoid dams that can produce strong currents and rushing water.

“I haven’t heard of anyone coming out of an overhand head damn lifejacket or not. I’ve seen entire fishing boats get in those dams and the whole boat be sucked under. So this the kind of power that they have,” said May.

In drownings that the Barren County Rescue Dive Team has responded to, they say alcohol has also been another factor. Officials encouraging folks to stay hardy rated and sober to avoid accidents.

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