New CPS Program Addresses Increased Drownings

By: Sarah Snyder
NewsWest 9

Drownings are skyrocketing across Texas. It's not even summer yet and already the number for this year is half what it was at the end of last year. Now Child Protective Services is stepping in to help out. The campaign is called, "If you can't see them, you can't save them."

"We're very concerned we might top our record for last year for drownings," Marleigh Meisner with Child Protective Services, said.

So far this year, 43 kids have drowned in the State of Texas, two of those from right here in the Permian Basin. Last year, the total number was about 80.

"We're really concerned because now the number is 43," Meisner said. "Every day when I do these interviews I have to get an update, because literally every day, those numbers are dramatically increasing."

A CPS program asks the parents to pay more attention.

"We want every single parent this year to hear the message, if you can't see your child in the water, you can't save your child in the water," Meisner said. "Make sure you are always observant of your child."

"It's an ongoing process," Ben Telesca with Midland Parks and Recreation said. "You can never let your guards down in these environments. Never."

The City of Midland says more families are staying home this summer and this year they see 800 kids coming to the pool everyday. So they've stepped up their game to make sure swimmers are safe with more lessons, extra lifeguards, and more breaks where everyone gets out of the pool.

"Another problem we see periodically is that parents overestimate the abilities of their children, letting them go into the deep end, and off the diving board, and things like that, and the kids get in trouble," Telesca said.

Parks and Recreation officials tell NewsWest 9, more parents are using city pools like babysitters and that sends the risk for injury way up. They say it all comes down to supervision.

"Even though we have great lifeguards up here, you can't rely on lifeguards 100% of the time to take care of your child," Telesca said. "The parents, ultimately, it's their responsibility."

And put those floaties away - the lifeguards say the best way to make sure their head is above water is with a lifejacket. The city keeps them stocked at both pools and loans them out for free.

"If we're able to educate parents about water safety issues then we're very hopeful we can save some Texas children," Meisner said.