LAFAYETTE, LA (KADN)-May is recognized as National Water Safety month and Louisiana is ranked fourth in the country for the highest rate of drownings.
Heather Broussard created Mazie’s Mission, a nonprofit in Youngsville, that was started to promote water safety so that no family has to experience the loss of a child due to drowning.
“I'm sure many families are like us and might say you know that would never happen to us. Well, it can,” Broussard said.
On October 20, Broussard lost her 17-month-old daughter, Mazie, to a accidental drowning.
“I was in the kitchen. She was in the living room and in a matter of seconds. I heard it get quiet, and I went to check on her we were literally just together just finished our little normal morning routine. And when I couldn't find her downstairs and our bedrooms, I just felt like something led me to the backyard, even though our doors were closed,” Broussard said.
According to Broussard, Mazie crawled through their doggy door and made her way to the backyard pool in which she was found in.
Broussard encourages all families with children to make sure they have safety precautions in place to prevent this type of tragedy from happening again.
“Whether it comes to installing a barrier, like a fence or a pool cover. Look into alarms for doors and the pool. Anytime you're around water and you know whether it's a pond or at the beach,” Broussard said.
Brandy Gautreau, a swim instructor in Youngsville, said the earliest age a child can learn how to swim is six months, but it is best to be taught by a professional.
“You can assume that you know how to swim because you can go under and you can come up and you can get to the side, but if you're in a dangerous situation or if somebody else grabs on to you, and they push you under. How do you know what to do if you don't know how to swim,” Gautreau said.
Shelly Rogers, the CEO of Crawfish Aquatics, said that drownings happen mostly in the summer and families should stay vigilant anytime they are near a body of water.
“It can happen anytime it can happen in two inches of water; it can happen in a bathtub. It can happen when you know you're you're 20 feet from a child, it can happen when you're having just family over for dinner and somebody forgets to watch,” Rogers said.
The Louisiana Department of Health recommends that anywhere that has a pool should have the proper safety equipment like fencing, pool alarms, and life vests. Officials urge that children be supervised at all times around any body of water.