“The swimming area was full of families celebrating the last day of the July 4th weekend,” said Tracey Terasas on the website Remembering Wyatt Dale. “Wyatt loved the water. Sandy Beach (at Possum Kingdom Lake) is “usually” very shallow; however, because of the drought, the water levels had dropped significantly, and what my son did not realize was that there was a 5 ft. drop just about 2 feet off that beach area. Wyatt and his sister were playing while their daddy turned, in five seconds, SILENTLY, Wyatt slipped in and under.”
“3-year-old Wyatt Dale Terasas lost his life to accidental drowning while in the family swim area. Wyatt did not have his life jacket on that day.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drowning is the leading cause of death for children. In the U.S., more children ages 1-4 die from drowning than any other cause of death. For children ages 5-14, drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury death, behind motor vehicle crashes.
There is a simple solution to decrease those numbers. Make sure all children wear a life jacket when around water.
Not long after Wyatt’s death, the Terasas family created the Remember Wyatt Dale Foundation to bring awareness to water safety, provide free life jackets to children, and promote and fund children’s swim classes so that no family would have to experience the grief and loss of a child.
The family shares their story each year at the Brazos River Authority’s Water Safety Awareness Day event in May. They will be providing free life jackets to the public at a similar event at Possum Kingdom Lake’s Bug Beach Park on June 24. In the 10 years since Wyatt’s death, the family has given away thousands of life jackets.
Texas state law requires all children under 13 years of age to wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket on recreational vessels under 26 feet in length. In addition, the law states that all adults must have a properly fitting life jacket that is easily accessible.
Life jackets reduce the risk of drowning for people of all ages and swimming abilities. When children are playing in a lake or river, wearing a life jacket is an essential part of water safety. Never rely on air-filled or foam toys for safety since they are not reliable devices for the
Today’s life jackets come in a variety of shapes, sizes, colors, and materials. No matter which life jacket you choose, be sure it’s right for your planned activities and the water conditions you expect to encounter.
Most importantly, make sure the life jacket fits properly and is zipped or buckled. Raise the child’s arms straight up over their head while wearing your life jacket and grab the shoulder material, gently pulling up. If there is excess room above the openings and the life jacket rides up over your chin or face, it does NOT fit properly. A snug fit in these areas signals a properly fitting life jacket.
Today’s life jackets come in a variety of shapes, sizes, colors, and materials. No matter which life jacket you choose, be sure it’s right for you, your planned activities, and the water conditions you expect to encounter.
Go here to get a better understanding of life jacket labels. TPWD also provides a chart of the new labeling system for life jackets. The traditional categories, with more wording, are being replaced with labels using icons. Knowing the type of life jacket needed for your particular activity is key and will give you all the protection needed.
Life jackets are not a substitute for supervision. Children should always be closely monitored by adults, regardless of whether they are wearing life jackets.
Wearing a life jacket when boating or at a lake is essential for your safety and the safety of those around you. Make sure to choose a properly fitting life jacket and wear it at all times when on the water. Worry less when you wear it.
And, remember, life jackets are not a substitute for supervision. Children should always be closely monitored by adults, regardless of whether they are wearing life jackets.
The Brazos River Authority Lake Granbury office has a few free life jackets still available to the public. Call 817-573-3212. For more information on the Remembering Wyatt Dale Foundation, go to https://rememberingwyattdale.org/