Child's drowning brings warnings to homeowners

Pool safety important in summer



Officials said last week’s drowning of a 3-year-old should serve as a reminder for those flocking to water for the Fourth of July.

Rene Hopkins, the coordinator for Safe Kids East Central at Medical College of Georgia Children’s Medical Center, said drownings rise 86 percent during warmer months.

Ages 4 and younger are considered the most at risk, accounting for 65 percent of all drownings.

Jonathan Shuker, 3, was one of those children. He died Thursday, four days after falling into an above-ground pool at his grandmother’s Hephzibah home.

Richmond County Coroner Grover Tuten said Jonathan had been playing with other children in the pool at the home in the 3800 block of Karleen Road.

After they swam, the grandmother ushered all of the swimmers inside and removed the pool steps.

She later discovered Jonathan was missing and found him floating in the pool. Tuten said it appeared he had pulled over a chair and fallen in.

According to Safe Kids, more than 700 children ages 14 and younger have drowned every year since 2006. In 2009, more than 5,000 children were treated for near drowning injuries.

Hopkins advised that anyone with a pool invest in four-sided fencing with a self-closing, self-latching gate. The house does not substitute as one side of the fence. Hopkins said the pool should be completely closed off from the house.

“People need to be more vigilant now than ever,” she said. “Nothing replaces direct supervision.”

A pool and vehicles should be the first places to look if a child goes missing, Hopkins said. Seconds count when it comes to saving a child’s life.

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Safe Kids East Central is providing Water Watcher Whistles that can be worn around the wrist. Anyone interested in obtaining a whistle should contact Safe Kids East Central at (706) 721-7606.