DEAR ABBY: I have been a lifeguard for more than 30 years, and I continually see parents and other adults putting children in harm's way. Would you please remind your readers that they need to be vigilant around water? A drowning is nothing like they show in the movies.
As you take your family to your favorite swimming hole this summer, please be careful. If your child isn't a competent swimmer, never allow him or her to go beyond arm's reach. Never exceed the ratio of two nonswimmers to one adult. If possible, stay where the child can touch the bottom.
If your children can swim and you allow them to go into the pool, lake, ocean without you -- always watch them! Yes, lifeguards are observing the swimmers -- but no one on this planet will watch your child with the same vigilance that you will.
So put down the book, the e-reader, the tablet, the cellphone and actively watch. If you're chatting with friends, don't look at them; watch your child. It can take as few as 10 to 20 seconds for a person to get into trouble and slip without a sound beneath the surface. I guarantee you: Your parent-to-child ratio is lower than that of any lifeguard-to-swimmer. -- LIFEGUARD JOHN IN AUBURN, WASH.
DEAR LIFEGUARD JOHN: Your message is important and timely. Every year we read about families basking in the sun near water, and children who have lost their lives because the person who was supposed to be watching them became momentarily distracted. I agree the best way to protect against tragedies like this is unremitting vigilance. Thanks for giving me a chance to say it again.