Practicing water safety this Labor Day Weekend


FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — As we go into Labor Day Weekend, many families may be enjoying some time on the water. Whether you’ll be spending time in a pool or lake, it’s important to make sure water safety guidelines are followed to keep everyone safe.

Trauma coordinator for Northwest Health, Brendi Gale said drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional death in kids ages one to 14. But these deaths are usually preventable.

  • Make sure kids are always supervised. Gale suggests adults watch them in shifts. 
  • Pick up all toys after swim time is over. This reduces the chances of kids wanting to go back to get toys that may have fallen in the water.
  • Don’t use a lifejacket as a substitute for supervision. Gale says kids can still drown in a lifejacket.

“A lot of times you can have a family that’s a very supportive family, a very engaged family, and they don’t realize this could happen to anyone.” Gale said. “You can turn your head for just a matter of moments and your child can be in a situation where they’re drowning.”

A tragedy local mom, Tracy Billingsley knows firsthand. Billingsley’s son Evan drowned in 2014. Evan Thomas was a healthy kid and strong swimmer, and proof it can happen to anyone.

“To stand at the edge of a river waiting for them to recover his body was surreal,” Billingsley said. “It was the farthest thing from my mind. How could this be happening?”

Billingsley said although Evan’s death was tragic, a lot of good has come from it. Billingsley formed the Evan Thomas Foundation on the one year anniversary of his passing, which has helped people in the community in various ways, including scholarships and water safety gear donations.

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