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Red Cross offers resources to keep children safe in and around water



The swimming lesson (Photo by Journalist 1st Class Daniel J. Calderon. Public domain)

It can happen in the blink of an eye.

This week in Vicksburg, two children drowned. One survived. One did not.

Drowning can happen “in the time it takes to reply to a text, check a fishing line or apply sunscreen,” the Red Cross website warns.

Tamica Smith Jeuitt, executive director of Southwest Mississippi chapter of the Red Cross in Flowood, said the Red Cross can help.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family hurting from this tragedy and the community that grieves for them and may not be able to offer care as they would before the COVID 19 pandemic,” she said. “I urge the public to let the Red Cross be a resource.”

Among those resources, the Red Cross offers free access to spiritual care volunteers and mental health volunteers who can be contacted by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS.

She also had some timely advice for parents and guardians to keep children safe in and around water.

“Research and preparation is everything,” she said, adding, “You don’t want to wait until something happens.”

The Red Cross website offers a wealth of information on water safety, some of which is reprinted below with permission.

“Now is the time to make sure that you know what resources are available,” Smith Jeuitt said.

To protect children, the Red Cross recommends using layers of protection in and around water:

  • Even if lifeguards are present, you (or another responsible adult) should stay with your children.
  • Be a “water watcher,” Provide close and constant attention to children you are supervising; avoid distractions including cell phones.
  • Teach children to always ask permission to go near water.
  • Children, inexperienced swimmers, and all boaters should wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets.
  • Take specific precautions for the water environment you are in, such as:
    • Fence pools and spas with adequate barriers, including four-sided fencing that separates the water from the house.
    • At the beach, always swim in a lifeguarded area.

These actions will help your family avoid emergencies – and help you respond if an emergency occurs:

  • Paying close attention to children or weak swimmers you are supervising in or near water.
  • Knowing the signs that someone is drowning.
  • Knowing ways to safely assist a drowning person, such as “reach or throw, don’t go.”
  • Knowing CPR and first aid.

If an emergency does occur, here are additional steps:

  • If a child is missing, check the water first: seconds count in preventing death or disability!
  • Alert the lifeguard if one is present.
  • Recognize the signs of someone in trouble and shout for help. A swimmer needs immediate help if they:
    •  Are not making forward progress in the water.
    • Are vertical in the water but unable to move or tread water.
    • Are motionless and face down in the water.
  • Rescue and remove the person from the water (without putting yourself in danger).
  • Ask someone to call emergency medical services (EMS). If alone, give two minutes of care, then call EMS.
  • Begin rescue breathing and CPR.
  • Use an automated external defibrillator, or AED, if available and transfer care to advanced life support.

Smith Jeuitt also offered these online resources:

  • Learn how to save a life with the Red Cross First Aid App and training courses (
  • Download the Swim App and visit the new Water Safety for Kids site ( for videos, activities and quizzes.
  • Enable the Red Cross skills on Amazon Alexa-enabled devices for valuable first aid information, to schedule a blood donation, receive warnings about an approaching hurricane or make a financial donation to the Red Cross (

She also wanted to let everyone know that the Red Cross has a Virtual Family Assistance Center to support families struggling with loss and grief due to the coronavirus pandemic.

People can visit to access a support hub with special virtual programs, information, referrals and services to support families in need. The hub will also connect people to community resources provided by partners in their area. People without internet access can call 833-492-0094 for help.

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