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Elk River Drowning, Pool Openings Spur Water Safety Reminder

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Colin Smith Colin Smith
Colin is a morning anchor/reporter for WCCO-AM. A Minnesota nat...
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(credit: CBS)

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – As Memorial Day weekend marks the opening of many public pools, a Twin Cities foundation is pushing parents toward a water safety pledge.

Edina-based Abbey’s Hope is promoting the Water Watchdog Tag, a physical reminder for parents to maintain constant visual contact with their children while they are near pools, lakes and streams.

“It’s something parents wear around the neck or wrist, to remind them that they are in charge,” said Katey Taylor, co-founder of Abbey’s Hope. “It’s active supervision, meaning you’re vigilant even if there is a lifeguard on duty. No one sees your child’s ability in the water better than a parent.”

In 2012, there were a record 39 drowning deaths in Minnesota. Nationwide, drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury-related death among children ages 14 and under. The death of a toddler, whose body was recovered from Elk River on Sunday, is the most recent somber example.

“We’re making strides and people are embracing the Watchdog Tag, but sadly the more drowning deaths we have the more people want to know how they can help,” Taylor said. “Many times, it is as simple as awareness and watching your kids closely.”

Proper maintenance of pool drains is also an important element of the Foundation. In 2007, Katey and Scott Taylor’s 6-year-old daughter, Abbey, was disemboweled by a faulty pool drain and, despite a liver, intestine and pancreas transplant, died nine months later.

The Taylors’ advocacy inspired the first ever national swimming pool safety legislation, The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act. Minnesota pool drains are better that 85 percent compliant, the nation’s highest rate.

May 24 would have been Abbey’s 12th birthday.

“I’m humbled and proud of her legacy, that her life — and death — meant something,” Taylor said. “I believe that she left her mark on this world and so it means a lot that people think about her when they go to the pool.”

You can find take the Water Watchdog pledge and find other important water safety tips at the Abbey’s Hope website

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