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If swimming with kids, watch them closely

Updated: August 17, 2013 9:47PM



Dear Abby: I have been a lifeguard for more than 30 years, and I continually see parents and other adults putting children in harm’s way. Would you please remind your readers that they need to be vigilant around water? A drowning is nothing like they show in the movies.

As you take your family to your favorite swimming hole this summer, please be careful. If your child isn’t a competent swimmer, never allow him or her to go beyond arm’s reach. Never exceed the ratio of two nonswimmers to one adult. If possible, stay where the child can touch the bottom.

If your children can swim and you allow them to go into the pool, lake, ocean without you — always watch them! Yes, lifeguards are observing the swimmers — but no one on this planet will watch your child with the same vigilance that you will.

So put down the book, the e-reader, the tablet, the cellphone and actively watch. If you’re chatting with friends, don’t look at them; watch your child. It can take as few as 10 to 20 seconds for a person to get into trouble and slip without a sound beneath the surface. I guarantee you: Your parent-to-child ratio is lower than that of any lifeguard-to-swimmer. — LIFEGUARD JOHN IN AUBURN, WASH.

DEAR LIFEGUARD JOHN: Your message is important and timely. Every year we read about families basking in the sun near water, and children who have lost their lives because the person who was supposed to be watching them became momentarily distracted. I agree the best way to protect against tragedies like this is unremitting vigilance. Thanks for giving me a chance to say it again.

Dear Abby: I have a brother-in-law whom I love dearly who lives out of state and stays in our guest room frequently. I try hard to be a thoughtful hostess. When he comes, we spend the first 45 minutes rearranging the guest room furniture because he likes the bed to face west. Currently, it faces north, as do the nightstands and the dresser.

I accommodate him, but frankly, it’s getting very old. Am I being nasty to want our furniture arranged the way we’re comfortable? Or must I allow him to rearrange it the way he wants it? He is here for only 24 hours and then leaves. — GOOD HOSTESS IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR HOSTESS: Your brother-in-law may be a frustrated interior decorator, or want the room to be the way he sleeps at home. A good hostess tries to accommodate the needs of her guests; however, if the furniture in your house has been moved, your brother-in-law should put it back the way it was before he leaves.

Dear Abby: Do you or your readers think it’s acceptable for a father to ask his 21-year-old college student son whether he and his girlfriend of one year are sexually active? This is his first girlfriend.

I am his mother, and I say it’s none of our business. My husband says it’s a reasonable question; he just wants to give him fatherly advice — like “be careful.” — MOM IN COLORADO

DEAR MOM: Would you still say it’s none of your business if your son made his first girlfriend pregnant? I would, however, caution your husband to be more tactful about how he approaches the subject because a blunt question like the one he’s contemplating could be off-putting. If he has birth-control information he wants to impart, a better way to approach it would be to raise the subject without putting his son on the spot.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.



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