The young mother turned away from the pool in the apartment complex to chat with her friends. Something, to this day she doesn’t know exactly what it was, made her turn around and glance at the pool. To her horror, she saw her 2 and 1/2 year old toddler floating face-down in the water!
In a flash, the woman jumped into the pool, lifted her calm baby girl, who seemed to be interested in the view of the bottom of the pool, up out of the water and said, in a miraculous imitation of total calm, “My, my, honey, aren’t you having a lovely time? It’s time for us to leave now, so let me get you out and dry you off, so we can go home.” No one saw the mother’s pounding heart and no one heard her fervent prayers of gratitude.
Not all such stories have a happy ending. A recent tragedy in our state has reminded us of this, so we interrupt our investment advisory format to bring you this reminder: Beware of drowning.
With summer time’s warm weather, more people of all ages will want to go for a swim in a river, the ocean, a lake, or a backyard pool. In years past in this agricultural area where we live, drowning was a big problem for migrant workers’ children, who drowned in irrigation ditches.
Our county offered swimming lessons when some of their parents asked for help in preventing the problem.
Then the federal government shut down the fields to child workers. Farmers changed from row crops harvested by humans, including their children, to field crops that could be harvested by machine. Changing crops also changed irrigation methods and irrigation ditches disappeared.
Many migrant moms had to stop working in the fields, because they had to stay with their kids. The upside for the migrant families, in addition to the facts that the men could still work and pay for the higher-skilled ag jobs was better, was that children from migrant families stopped drowning.
However, closing the fields to kids was a sad occasion for the local non-migrant kids, who used to work alongside migrant workers and Asian immigrants in the fields. Picking beans, strawberries and other crops was a major source of income for them. They financed wardrobes, cars and college, plus they got to extend their social life beyond school days.
Farmers ran “berry buses” to pick up the kids and take them to the fields. The kids’ moms and members of the farmers’ families drove the buses and acted as “row bosses.” IFO and her daughters did this for a few summers and had a wonderful time, in spite of the fact that we actually needed the money, unlike most of our peers in the fields, for whom the pay was more of a bonus.
Adult migrant workers still drown, though, mainly in rivers and lakes. Other drownees are people on boats not wearing life jackets, and still, children.
According to the CDC, between 2005-2009, an average of 3,533 fatal unintentional drownings (non-boating related) occurred every year in the United States — about ten deaths per day. An additional 347 people died each year from drowning in boating-related incidents. Fortunately, only 20 percent of the people who drown are children under 14, but still…
Here are some other interesting and vital things to know about drowning.
Nearly 80 percent of people who die from drowning are men or boys.
Drowning is silent. You don’t see people thrashing around as you see in movies. They just go under and don’t come back up.
P.S. Those of you who guessed that the young mother in the example above was IFO are right. And guess what happened the very next day? She enrolled both of her daughters in SWIMMING LESSONS at the local pool!