Graduation Time Brings Water Accidents

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At this time of year, there are tragic stories of young people who either drown or become seriously injured in water accidents while attending graduation party festivities. Unfortunately, most accidents could have been prevented with adult guidance and supervision, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Tim Smalley, Minnesota DNR boat and water safety specialist noted some common scenarios when a dozen 17- and 18-year-olds go to one of their parents’ cabins up north. The stage could be set for a tragedy if:

An alcohol-impaired person dives off the end of a dock without checking the depth. The water is only three feet deep and his or her head hits the bottom, fracturing the cervical spine and causing drowning.

A few young people grab a canoe out of a shed and head out on a moonlit cruise without life vests. Several hundred yards from shore, the alcohol-impaired paddlers capsize the canoe and only one of the three makes it back to shore.

“Parents should ensure their grads are adequately supervised, and the adult responsible for the gathering should see that teens do not consume alcohol,” said Smalley. “No one should be allowed near any kind of boat, canoe or personal watercraft without wearing a life jacket, and no one should dive head first from a dock.”

For more boating and water safety information, visit the DNR’s Web site at