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Jan. 29, 2001 PROBE

January 30, 2001

QUESTION: The Imperial Irrigation District cut off our electricity two weeks ago. A friend offered to lend us $100 to get IID to turn it back on.

IID wouldn't negotiate. It said it would turn on the power if we paid the $287 bill. We couldn't raise that much.

I can pay it on the first of the month. Our pastor offered to "stand good" for the bill if we don't pay, but IID wouldn't accept that.

We've been to every charitable and governmental agency we could find but none has that kind of money to pay electric bills. Can you help? — Disconnected, El Centro

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IID wouldn't budge. IID Spokeswoman Sue Giller says you owe $401 but if you can come up with $280, your power will be restored.

The best we can do is remind that Feb. 1 is just around the corner.

QUESTION: When my 5-year-old daughter, Erika, reached for a ball in a neighbor's pool she fell into the deep end.

My 9-year-old son, Donovan, managed to grab his sister and keep her head above water until an adult rushed out of the house and pulled her out.

Donovan is a really good swimmer but Erika is still learning. She only dog paddles.

People should teach their children water safety. Summer is coming again and this could happen to everyone. It really can. — Relieved Dad, Brawley

Donovan is not only quick-thinking he's also level-headed. Although he's a good swimmer, he used good judgment in not jumping into the pool. Many would-be rescuers have drowned trying to pull someone else out of the water.

Erika needs some water-safety lessons. She was never farther than Donovan's arm reach from the pool's edge. She could have dog-paddled to the side, grabbed it and hung on until somebody rescued her.

People seldom drown because the water is deep. They drown because they panic. Nobody panics if they know what to do.

If your kids are going to spend time around water, make sure they know what to do when they're in over their heads.

We used to take our grandchildren to the Imperial Valley College diving pool when they were toddlers, turn them loose three feet from the side and let them swim the distance to safety.

It wasn't long until the kids swam better than grandma. They almost drowned her a couple times trying to climb on her shoulders to dive off.

Luckily their parents rescued grandma before she went down for the third time.

QUESTION: You hear people describe someone as "middle-aged." At what age does somebody become is middle-aged? — Forever Young, Holtville

We've done this question before. Since nobody will admit to being middle-aged, we'll give you the formula we devised.

We've always considered anybody 15 years older than us "middle-aged." "Young" includes anybody 15 years younger than us.

If you don't like that definition, there's the fantasy, "You're as young (or old) as you feel."

In that light, we must be nearing middle age.

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