Mosquito Lake drowning puts focus on water safety


The drowning of a young man from Youngstown at Mosquito Lake State Park in Bazetta Township earlier this week powerfully illustrates just how quickly a day of fun at the beach can degenerate into a tragedy of calamitous proportions.

Such a tragedy played out early Sunday evening on the popular beach at the state park when 27-year-old Antonio S. Randall of Youngstown ventured beyond the safe-swimming markers in the lake, reached a sudden drop-off and was unable to swim to safety. He was pronounced dead that evening at St. Joseph Warren Hospital.

The sad accident, however, could have been much worse. Thanks to the efforts of several beach-goers, emergency medical personnel as well as the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, another man who had collapsed in an attempt to rescue Randall was saved.

The drowning and near-drowning should remind all that venturing into waters for recreation and cooling, particularly for those who have little or no formal training in swimming, can be hazardous and even deadly.

Drowning today remains the fifth leading cause of unintentional death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In recent years, the CDC has logged approximately 3,500 drowning deaths annually or about 10 per day.

In Ohio, an average of 112 people die every year from drowning and another 244 are treated in emergency departments, according to the Injury in Ohio report.

As with other causes of deaths, some groups have higher risks of drowning than others. African-American children, for example, are 5.5 times more likely to die from drowning than white children in this country, the CDC reports.

TOLL OF DROWNING DECLINES

To be sure, though, awareness levels of the dangers of unsafe behaviors in water and of the value of learning how to swim at a young age have helped lessen the toll that drowning takes.

In the U.S., deaths from drowning have dropped about 35 percent since 2000.

But as the family and loved ones of Antonio Randall know all too well this week, one death by drowning is one death too many.

That’s why we find it timely today to reinforce some of the most basic rules of water safety from the ODNR and others:

Learn how to swim. Children and adults who cannot swim should avoid deep water-areas. They should also make learning to swim a summer priority.

Fortunately for Youngstowners, the Central YMCA and city Parks Department have teamed up this week to offer low-cost lessons at North Side Pool on Belmont Avenue.

Learn the essentials of cardio-pulmonary resuscitation.

Obey all signs, including those warning of deep water or a lack of lifeguards.

Stay alert and keep an eye on all young children. Use the buddy system to designate one member of the party to remain on the beach or poolside to keep watch on all others in the water.

Have a cellphone handy in case an emergency 911 call must be made.

Following such simple advice and taking such common-sense precautions will maximize the chances that summer bathing will produce its intended fun and relaxation – not pain and heartache.

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