Keeping kids safe.
Representatives from various agencies came together at the Ormond Beach YMCA, 500 Sterthaus Drive, on June 6 for a press conference on water safety and to encourage residents to secure pools and take steps to protect children.
Pointing out that Florida leads the country in drowning deaths of children age 1 to 4, Teresa Rand, YMCA CEO and president, said the officials are seeking to prevent drowning and near-drowning accidents in Volusia County. Stressing the importance of learning to swim, she said the YMCA has been teaching kids to swim since 1907.
Steve Parris, Safe Kids coordinator, Halifax Health Healthy Communities, said most drownings occur in home swimming pools. Statistics show, he said, that African-American and Hispanic children are at a much higher risk of drowning, and many do not know how to swim.
He said Safe Kids offers scholarships for swimming lessons.
Eric Maday, environmental specialist for the Florida Dept. of Health in Volusia County, stressed the three layers of protection, supervision, barriers and emergency preparedness (see box.)
“These three layers will prevent the vast majority of child drownings,” Maday said.
An important factor in child drownings, he said, is that a child who falls into the pool will usually go straight to the bottom and not make any noise that would alert someone.
Mark Swanson, director of beach services, said the county has the largest “pool,” 47 miles of beach. His number one recommendation is to swim in front of a lifeguard.
Ray Manchester, deputy chief, Beach Patrol, said ocean swimmers should always stay in waist deep water, to prevent being carried out by a strong current. He also stressed the importance of being near a lifeguard.
“The lifeguard will let you know you’re in trouble before you know you’re in trouble,” he said.