Weekend drowning brings lake safety to the forefront

LEE'S SUMMIT, Mo. - Public safety officials are reminding people about water safety in lakes after a Raytown teen died Saturday in a Lee's Summit lake.

Manny Palmer drowned while swimming to a cove in the lake. Park rangers want swimmers to know that a lake has more hidden dangers than swimming pools.

"In a swimming pool you can see the bottom of the pool and you know where the water begins to get deeper," explained Jim Dickerson, park ranger for Longview Lake in Lee's Summit. "In a lake you can't see the bottom -- there is brush or debris that you can get caught in and there could be sudden drop-offs that instantly put you in deep water."

He also said that the currents in lakes can be powerful and unexpected so a persons may not be able to handle it.

"The lake is also deceiving because you may think that you can swim a certain distance to the shore but realize that it's further than you think and you don't have the strength," he said.

Dickerson recommends swimming at the beach at a lake because there are lifeguards, and the ground in the beach area has been cleared of debris. The depth of the water is also marked so swimmers can easily stay in the safe area.

The park ranger also said it's important for parents to constantly watch their children in the water.

"Know where your kids are in the water because if they go under, the water is dark and you won't be able to see them; knowing where they are will help you know where to start searching," Dickerson said.

Dickerson explained that if you are in a lake it's important to wear your life jacket.

"You never know when you might drop into a deep part of the lake or suddenly need help staying above water," he said.

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