HOUSTON — It’s Memorial Day weekend, and for so many of us, it’s the vacation we’ve been waiting for.
But sometimes that summer fun on the water can have deadly consequences. In fact, sadly, the Houston area is leading the state for the most number of drownings so far this year.
“Because we’re all locked up at home, and guess what, we want to get out. We want to get in the water, we want to do things with our families," said Charlene Bustamante, Texas Department of Family and Protective Services Lead Child Safety Specialist.
So you head out to the beach, the lake or maybe even your backyard. But it only takes a few minutes in that water for a child to lose their life.
“Anything can happen in a beach or even in a pool. Kids hit their heads and they go under, and you don’t know that they’re no longer around," Bustamante said.
Drowning is one of the leading causes of accidental death for children under 5, and most drownings happen in backyard or apartment swimming pools, according to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.
But any body of water can be dangerous: beaches, lakes and even water parks.
Typhoon Texas in Katy says they do their part, but parents have to as well.
“We have signs all over the place saying, 'Please watch your kids.' We have life jackets available at every major point to make sure we have weak or non-swimmers in a comfortable life jacket. And we really hope parents are keeping just as well of an eye as our lifeguards," said Meg Andrepont with Typhoon Texas.
But sadly, Bustamante says already this year, 20 children have drowned in Texas.
“It’s been higher this year than previous years," Bustamante said.
Seven of them were in the Houston area, from as young as 1 to as old as 8. Five of those drownings happened in a pool or hot tub, one was in a bathtub and another was at the beach.
“When you’re in crowded beaches, crowded pools, areas where there’s lots of people, you lose children. And people start looking everywhere but in the water," Bustamante said.
So her advice is to start swimming lessons at an early age, make sure your child always wears a life jacket or swim vest -- something that does not blow up -- and keep watch the entire time.
“It only takes 30 seconds for a child to be lost under water, so somebody calls us, guess what? We turn away, we look at our phone, we answer a text message," Bustamante said. "Ensure that while your child is in the water, that you’re watching them."
It's a simple reminder that could save a life.