The Meridian Fire Department is urging parents to discuss canal safety by reminding children not to swim in the canals.
The Idaho Water User Association reports more children drown in irrigation facilities than any other body of water in Idaho. Meridian canals could see water moving through the first week of April and while the waters may appear calm, officials say never to go in or swim in the canals.
"There are plenty of safe areas in Meridian where can kids can go to play in the water. Canals are not one of them. Many Meridian City parks have splash pads and safe water features to take advantage of. Parents can help keep our youngest citizens safe around water by keeping them supervised and teaching them the dangers of open bodies of water such as irrigation canals,” said Fire Chief Kris Blume in a statement.
Meridian Fire Department suggests parents discuss the following safety tips with children:
- Do not swim or allow your pets in the canals
- Keep a safe distance from the edges of the canals as canal sides are extremely slick, making it difficult for people and pets to get out.
- Swimming, tubing, or any other water play are not allowed in the canals.
- Never jump in to rescue pets or objects such as toys. Call 911 for help.
- Do not leave your children unattended around canals.
"The purpose of the canals is huge, but they are extremely dangerous, and everybody needs to understand, regardless of how inviting the water appears to look at the surface, it's very dangerous," said Battalion Chief of the Meridian Fire Department Tyler Roundtree.