Mom helping families practice better pool safety after losing her child in 2005 Memorial Day drowning

HOUSTON — The Harris County Sheriff's Office is urging parents to be extremely careful around water this summer after two little girls were left in critical condition following near-drowning incidents at homes in Katy on Memorial Day.

Morning Dose met with a local woman whose mission is to help families be safe around the water.

Deonesia Grays started Bria’s House in hopes of keeping families from ending up in the same situation that she’s in—living each day without her daughter.

It was Memorial Day 2005 when she took her son and 4-year-old daughter, Bria Nicole Harvey, over to a friend’s apartment pool for a birthday party.

Grays and one of the other parents were gathering up food and towels and one of the other adults offered to take the kids down to the pool.

“Against my first mind, I let Bria go with them because she was anxious, she was ready to go. She had never been swimming, so that was her first time and her last time,” Grays said.

She started Bria’s House in 2008 and has helped dozens of children through her organization. She helps families who cannot afford swimming lessons or CPR certifications. As of October 2018, the program has assisted 17 families and 47 children.

“My advice to parents never changes: watch your kids," Grays said. "Even if they know how to swim, even if someone around them knows how to swim, no one can watch your children better than you can. You know their actions as a parent, you know what they’ll do as a parent.”

She hopes sharing  her personal story will help other parents realize the importance of being safe around the water.

Here are a few ways to make water safety a priority for your family:

  • Even if lifeguards are present, stay with your children.
  • Be a "water watcher" and provide close and constant attention (avoid distractions like your phone)
  • Teach children to always ask permission to go near water.
  • Fence pools and spas with barriers. The American Red Cross suggests a four sided-fencing that separates the water from the house.
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