Number of Drownings in Southwest Missouri on the Rise

By Lindsay Clein

Published 08/01 2014 09:47PM

Updated 08/01 2014 10:13PM

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- The number of drownings in our area is on the rise.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol wants to remind anyone out on the lakes, rivers and streams this summer to put safety first.

While Troop D of the Missouri State Highway Patrol worked four drowning cases through July 31 of last year-- this year, the number of drownings has doubled in our area.  Troopers say they've had eight drownings up to this point and want to remind those on the water to stay safe.

A peaceful afternoon on a lake can easily turn tragic.

"Sadly, within the Troop D region -- which includes the 18 county region within southwest Missouri, we've seen the number of drowning incidents double compared to the same time last year."

Troopers at the Missouri State Highway Patrol want to make sure you don't become a statistic.

"Nationally, there are usually around 500 drownings that occur as a result of recreational and boating crashes throughout the year," says Sergeant Pace.  "And many of those are not wearing life jackets."

Summer is a time to get out and enjoy the outdoors, but law enforcement agencies want to make sure you're putting safety first.

"Kind of have to think about it and be safe," says Reece Rader, who was fishing on the lake today.

It's a concern for people who spend hours on the lake.

"To think if something went wrong and you're not very close to shore-- it can happen to anybody," says Rader.  "It's pretty scary."

Reece Rader and his friend Brennan Banks often go fishing.

"People sometimes aren't very smart out here," says Rader.

They say some of the things they observe shock them.

"Sometimes I see people messing around," he says. "Not being very safe."

"Not really on the lake," says Brennan Banks.  "But on float trips and stuff-- doing stupid things, not really caring."

When it comes to swimming in any body of water-- whether it be a lake, river or stream-- you can never be too careful.

"Even for children and adults that think they're strong swimmers, there's a number of elements within rivers and lakes people aren't aware of like the current of water or drop-offs on the floor," says Sergeant Pace.  "Be extra cautious-- be careful."

Sergeant Pace says it's important to know your limits.  If you find yourself swimming too long or too hard, it's important to take a break.  He also says to drink plenty of water and avoid alcohol and caffeine.

You can reach the Missouri Highway Patrol's Water Division any time by pressing *55.

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