DENVER (KDVR) – World Drowning Prevention Day will be held on Monday, July 25.
Established in 2021 by the United Nations General Assembly Resolution, World Drowning Prevention Day sheds light on the fact that more children ranging in age from 1 to 4 die from drowning than any other cause of death, aside from birth defects.
Drennen’s Dreams Foundation said that in Colorado, 90% of all fatal drownings occur in open bodies of water including rivers, lakes and reservoirs.
Just this year, Colorado has seen over 25 recreational water-related deaths. This number shows that the state is on its way to breaking the current yearly record of 34 drownings that occurred back in 2020.
Most of these drownings could have been prevented if the individual had been wearing a life jacket, and all drownings have a devastating and lasting impact on the families and their communities.
One of those families is the O’Melia family.
“[We enrolled] all of our boys in swim lessons very early, and they graduated and became part of the swim team to, you know, perfect or to advance their swimming capabilities,” Bill O’Melia said.
His oldest son Drennen was a football player and had just finished his seventh year of competitive swimming.
The day before he died he competed in one of his best swimming meets.
On June 6, 2010, Drennen, 12, drowned at a community pool with about 35 kids present and two lifeguards on duty.
“We dropped Drennen off at a private pool party at our nearby community pool and about a half hour later, we received a phone call that he was unconscious,” O’Melia said. “Drennen was down in about three and a half to four feet of water five feet away from an unoccupied lifeguard stand.”
“I never thought that this child at this point in his life was going to die from drowning. It still happened,” O’Melia said.
This tragic and unnecessary drowning led his parents, friends and community to form the Drennen’s Dreams Foundation.
Drennen’s father recognizes the need for lifeguards, pool managers, and aquatic facilities to be trained on all the proper water safety procedures to prevent a child from drowning.
O’Melia has been giving training presentations across the country to tens of thousands of lifeguards, aquatic facilities, water parks, and pool management, and his message is included in the American Red Cross training video titled “Not on Your Watch.”