Water Watchdog: Pool Safety

There were 19 drowning deaths in Hennepin County alone last year.

By Boua Xiong, KARE  //  Plymouth, Minnesota

Almost one year ago tragedy struck at Lancaster Village Apartments in Plymouth when a 9-year-old girl drowned in the community pool and a 29-year-old man drowned while trying to help. Both were not strong swimmers.

Community Manager Julie Siegler received a phone call telling her there was a double drowning.
"It was disbelief," she said.

Major changes to the pool have happened since the incident. A 911 direct dial phone has been installed, emergency equipment is now surrounded by red tap and additional signage is up, including a poster from the Twin Cities Metro Water Safety Task Force.

The poster is just one way the task force is trying to educate people about drowning.
Jon Foss, founder of Foss Swim School and member of the task force, said most people don't know how a drowning can happen.

"It's absolutely silent. It's just fall in the water, look up, under the water, down to the bottom that quick," Foss said.

Apartment pools carry a greater risk of drowning, said Katey Taylor, another member of the task force. Official said that there were 19 drowning deaths in Hennepin County alone last year and many of them were in apartments.

Taylor, who lost her own daughter to a pool, said she hopes others can learn pool safety skills so on one has to go through what her family went through.

"We figured, OK, we can go out to apartment complexes and educate the management and the tenants and try to bring water safety to them on site." Taylor said.

That's welcome news for Siegler who learned not only how to keep her tenants safe, but also her own family.

"I'm a mother and I would go to the pool with a magazine, with music on, and my son would be waist deep. I didn't think anything of it. I thought I was doing the right thing and after seeing what happened last year and seeing the education, I realized absolutely I'm in the water with him," Siegler said.