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Region Aligns To Prevent Drowning Before Memorial Day

By Diane Holm

May 20, 2015

Lee County, FL—The first tri-county alliance to prevent drowning was announced to coincide with National Drowning Prevention Month by the Safe Kids Coalition Lee-Collier Counties, and to remind people that Memorial Day Weekend is the national start of drowning season. The Florida Department of Health is the lead agency for Safe Kids in Florida.

“Drowning is preventable through vigilance, education, barriers and skills,” said Diane Holm, Florida Department of Health in Lee County public information officer. “Lee County’s child drowning rate has been stagnant near the top of the chart for more than 40 years. This alliance can provide adults and children with the consistent messages, tools and resources needed to keep both children and adults from this preventable injury.”

The local Safe Kids Coalition, led by the Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida, has been working with the Safe and Health Kids Coalition of Collier County and a new drowning prevention coalition in Charlotte County to achieve an alliance. Combined benefits include public service announcements on billboards, television and radio educating the public about the risk of drowning and how to prevent it.

New in Lee County, life jacket loaner stations were placed at five Lee County beaches, free swim lessons are being provided for qualified children at the Tice Pool and Never Swim Alone education messages for children and adults will be at the dinner table in area restaurants. These programs were added to the life jacket loaner stations at marinas, gas docks and boat ramps; education programs at public pools; and distribution of Designated Water Watcher lanyards.

New in Collier County, Never Swim Alone pins are being worn by employees of the Florida Department of Health, Head Start, City of Naples and Naples Community Hospital in addition to educational coloring placemats at restaurants including Skillets, Mel’s Diner and Longhorn Steakhouse. These programs were added to their Swim Central free swim lesson program, lifejacket loaner stations and Designated Water Watcher lanyard distribution.

New in Charlotte County, the developing coalition is supporting efforts of Just Against Children Drowning to install barriers around home pools, provide swim lesson scholarships to families in need, education and the Designated Water Watcher lanyard distribution.

Lee County hospitals see 30-50 child submersion injuries every year, and a third of those injuries become permanent. The Florida Department of Health in Lee County urges all parents and care givers to get children enrolled in swim lessons including water safety instruction. Parents should learn water rescue skills and CPR. Adults and children should wear life jackets every time you go boating.

Layers of protection that include swim skills, supervision, barriers and emergency preparedness are listed on the Waterproof Florida website .

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