Bentley Love

After a horrible accident almost three years ago, a father is raising awareness regarding water safety in hopes of protecting other families from the pain he has had to endure.

Aug. 20, 2016, is a day Brandon Love will never forget.He and his two children had stayed at a friend's house for the night and early the next morning Love left the home for work. Unfortunately, Love's son, Bentley Maverick Love, 2, and his cousin, awoke before the adults that day and were able to unlock a door and venture outside. The children went to a neighbor's swimming pool, but were unable to get out. According to news reports at the time of the accident, Bentley and his cousin were found in the pool by a neighbor who began performing CPR.Bentley was taken to Arkansas Children's Hospital, but sadly he and his cousin both died as a result of the drowning.

When describing his son, Love mentioned the boy's drive and energy. Bentley and his brother, Bryce Love, were "joined at the hip," their father said. Love said he hopes by raising awareness about drowning that he can protect others while also keeping the memory of his son alive.

"You're never going to forget about it," Love said.

Love, who is related to Dana Poindexter, Bryant Mayor Allen Scott's administrative assistant, was recognized along with other family members during a recent Bryant City Council meeting. Scott proclaimed May 2019 Drowning Prevention Month in Bryant.

"With temperatures on the rise, more people are heading out to enjoy summer activities, many of which include being on the water and swimming. By becoming informed, Arkansas citizens can enjoy a fun-filled — and safe — summer," according to the proclamation.

According to the National Drowning Prevention Alliance, drowning is the cause of accidental deaths among children between the ages of 1 and 4 and 88 percent of child drowning occur with at least one adult present.

"Water safety is in the back of all our minds … but I don't think it's up front where it needs to be," Love said.

He knows that parents want their kids to have fun, but gives these tips to keep children safe:

If parents have an above ground pool and do not have fencing, they should remove the ladder or move it completely into the pool when not in use.

"It takes one or two seconds. Just that step alone could have saved my son and my nephew's lives," he said.

Love is also working with the Innovation Hub in Little Rock to create a prototype for a ladder lock to be sold with pools. Because of the accident involving his son, Love also suggests parents install an alarm on doors to alert them when on is opened.

The NDPA also gives the following water safety steps:

•Educate children and adults about water safety.

•Never leave a child unattended near water in a pool, tub, bucket or ocean. There is no substitute for adult supervision.

•Swim near a lifeguard whenever possible and only swim in designated swimming areas.

•Designate a “Water Watcher” to maintain constant watch over children in the pool during gatherings.

•The home should be isolated from the pool with a fence at least 60 inches tall, with a self-closing, self-latching gate. The gate should open away from the pool and should never be propped open.

•Doors and windows should be alarmed to alert adults when opened. Doors should be self-closing and self-latching.

•Power-operated pool safety covers are the most convenient and efficient. Solar/floating pool covers are not safety devices.

•Keep a phone at poolside so that you never have to leave the pool to answer a call and can call for help if needed.

•Learn CPR and rescue breathing.

•Keep a life-saving ring, shepherd’s hook and CPR instructions mounted at poolside.

•Only use proper and approved floatation devices. Do not confuse proper and approved floatation devices with toys.

•Do not use flotation devices as a substitute for supervision.

•Never leave water in buckets or wading pools.

•If a child is missing, always check the pool first. Seconds count.

•Remove toys from in and around the pool when not in use.

•Don’t use floating chlorine dispensers that look like toys.

•Instruct babysitters about potential pool hazards and emphasize the need for constant supervision.

•Responsibilities of pool ownership include ensuring children in the home learn to swim and that adults know CPR.

•Do not consider children “drownproof” because they’ve had swimming lessons.

Since the accident, Love has had "phenomenal" support from family, friends and other parents who have experienced similar situations. Along with being involved in the NDPA, he is a member in the Families United to Prevent Drowning.

His son, Bryce, also helps to keep him grounded.

"That's a lot of the reason I am where I am," Love said. "Just because I lost one, I still have (Bryce)."

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