Posted: Jul 17, 2012 11:17 AM by Lindsey Gordon - MTN News
Updated: Jul 17, 2012 11:26 AM
HELENA- The drowning deaths of a father and son near Valier on Sunday highlight the importance of water safety.
Montana law states that anyone under the age of 12 must wear a life vest on a vessel or boat, and that there is a life jacket on board for everyone else.
Hannah Woodward of Helena puts her children in life vests whenever they're near water.
"Mainly because they move so fast, they can be here one second and the next you don't know where they are. I guess I just feel better as a mother knowing where they're at, knowing that they're safer," she explained.
"Most of our fatalities probably in state-wide and nation-wide would be prevented if folks would just wear a life jacket," Ron Jendro of MT Fish, Wildlife & Parks noted..
But like many adults, just because Woodward puts a jacket on her kids, it doesn't mean she always wears one herself.
"I guess if I wasn't to wear one, it's because maybe I felt we weren't going fast enough, if we were just hanging out on the boat, that sort of thing," she said.
But accidents can happen then, too, and just being a good swimmer may not be enough.
"It doesn't matter how good of a swimmer you are, a lot of time Montana waters are very cold, so as soon as you hit the water you get what's called a gasp reflex, where you kinda suck in and at that point is when you can suck in some water and start getting into trouble," Jendro pointed out.
He says that most fatalities occur when on rafts, canoes, and kayaks, and that you need to be aware of the course you're heading down.
"The rivers change daily, so make sure that you just scope out your river a little bit beforehand, talk to people that are on the river a lot, ask them if there are any obstructions on the river," Jendro explained.
Other safety precautions include learning CPR, using the buddy system and never swimming alone, keeping a close eye on children, and of course knowing - or learning - how to swim.