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Mother whose daughter died by faulty pool drain pushes for water safety after four recent drownings

Katey Taylor created the Water Watchdog program and other tools to help adults actively supervise children near water.

PLYMOUTH, Minnesota — A drowning Sunday night in a pond at Loring Park marks the fourth one in the Twin Cities in about 10 days. 

With summer-like temperatures now here, a lot of people are ready to hit the water. Katey Taylor is a safety advocate with a very personal reason to try and keep others safe every year. 

"I don’t want your day to end the way ours did that day," Taylor said. Fourteen years ago, her six-year-old daughter, Abbey, died in a public pool accident. 

While wading, she unknowingly sat on a poorly maintained drain that was unequipped with the appropriate safety devices. According to the family's website, "the powerful suction eviscerated Abbey, ripping her small intestine from her body."

Her family started a foundation called Abbey's Hope that changed laws and educates people on how to safeguard kids around water.

"The water is a wonderful place to spend time, but it’s a wonderful place to respect," Taylor said. "Drowning, it's not fixable sadly, because you're relying on human nature and accidents are always going to happen."

Taylor says people can "do better" and suggests barriers around pools and swimming lessons, along with introducing yourself to the lifeguard on duty.

Wear a life jacket. Minnesota law requires anyone under 10 to wear one at all times in a boat.

She says to empty and turn over the inflatable pool you might have in your yard every night.

And you can become a "water watcher" through her organization by wearing a special dog tag they will mail to anyone who signs-up. Taylor says they give out about a 100 every month.

"You have something tangible in your hand that's reminding you, I am not on my phone, I am not reading a book right now, I am present and I am watching," Taylor said.

There are instructions that come along with being a "water watcher," according to Abbey's Hope and includes actively supervising children. You should wear the tag at all times and after a designated period of time, give the tag to another responsible adult. 

Be prepared. Learn to swim, use rescue equipment and CPR. 

And make sure the pool or spa you're visiting has anti-entrapment safety drains. Don't use the pool if the drains are broken or missing. 

As the unofficial start to summer is upon us, the Taylor family's continued commitment helps others enjoy a Minnesota tradition while getting home safe in honor of Abbey. 

"We are very pro water and enjoy it, but do it in a safe manner," Taylor said.

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