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Preventing drownings in the NorthwoodsSubmitted: 07/17/2013
Story By Shardaa Gray

Preventing drownings in the Northwoods
Photos By Shardaa Gray

WOODRUFF - When you get a smoldering hot day like today, going to the lake sounds pretty great.

But if you don't know how to swim, that could be a problem.

"Practice and try hard when you're in the water." said Harland resident, Gab Burch.

That's advice from a nine year old who just learned how to swim.

"My grandma was trying to teach me how to swim today, a little bit," Burch said.

"Then she gave me a float sort of thing to help me swim and I was a little scared."

Statistics are scary too.

Drownings are the second leading cause of accidental death for children between one and 14 years old.

That's why YMCA swim instructor Karen Fiocchi wants parents to watch their children.

"A lot of our lakes do not have life guards. They're public beaches, but there's no lifeguards. So that means swim at your own risk," said Fiocchi.

"So it means even if you're a good swimmer, swim with a buddy. If you're a kid, make sure your parents are there. Parents make sure you're there and you know where your kids are all the time at the beach."

Kids are at the highest risk of drowning when they're between ages one and four.

That's why this mom wants her daughter close to the shore.

"I don't like them going past the buoys because they're there for a reason. So definitely stay in there," Milwaukee resident, Amber Vandenorth said.

"My daughter, I just kind of like her on the shore more because obviously it's really shallow and she's little, but with him, out to the bouy's."

This twelve year old is glad to have supervision around.

"Just make sure you always have an adult or an older person with you that is responsible enough to watch you when you're swimming," said West Bend resident, Braden Hay.

"And always keep close to another person just in case because you never know what's going to happen."

Good advice from a very intelligent twelve year old.


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VILAS COUNTY - Many people love sightseeing on two wheels throughout the Northwoods.

Now, you can get a prize for doing it.

"Bike the Heart" encourages riders to explore the different communities along the Heart of Vilas County Trail.

The trail is more than 45 miles of paved path that connects Boulder Junction, Sayner, St. Germain and Manitowish Waters.

The goal of "Bike the Heart" is to stop at each Chamber of Commerce with a "pass card" to get a stamp.

You have until September to collect four stamps and send it in to one of the chambers to be entered for a prize worth more than $100.

"Bringing the bicyclists to this area is astronomical. We have inquiries from the entire Midwest and even the outlying states of California and New York," says executive director Penny Wiesmann of St. Germain Chamber of Commerce.

Mile markers and "fix-it" stations are the newest additions to the Heart of Vilas County Trail.

The stations have tools attached to the sides to help you make a quick fix on your bike.

"We're just really excited that people can come up and ride up the entire length of the trail, or if they want to take up some smaller portions they can do that to," says executive director Theresa Smith of Boulder Junction Chamber of Commerce.



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