ROCKLEDGE — Summer.
According to the calendar, it doesn’t officially start until June 21, although in the minds of many Americans, it really kicks off over the upcoming Memorial Day Weekend.
For Central Florida residents, it may seem like the heat of summer is already here, and for many of them, a weekend spent in the pool and at the beach sounds like the ideal way to beat the heat.
It’s important to keep in mind, one county health agency is noting, that as cool and refreshing as the pool waters or the ocean waves may seem, not enough swimmers and families with small children take into account another serious risk: the possibility of drowning.
That’s a key reason why the Florida Department of Health in Brevard County, located at 1748 Cedar St. in Rockledge, just issued an announcement that they will devote the month of May to highlighting the often major challenge of the dangers that pools, lakes and oceans pose to swimmers every year.
“The month of May is the beginning of warmer weather, which brings a larger number of people to the water,” DoH Brevard noted in the release. “This brings an increase in drowning tragedies … Drowning is a leading cause of unintentional injury death worldwide, and the highest rates are among children.”
That’s why DoH-Brevard is taking part in National Drowning Prevention Month in May, urging families to be fully aware of the dangers that swimming can pose, even to those who think it’s perfectly safe to jump in their pool or take a splash at the beach.
As the health agency noted, this is an even more serious concern in the Sunshine State than in many others.
“Unfortunately, Florida leads the nation in drowning deaths in children between the ages of one and four and Brevard County ranks 8th in the state,” the agency noted.
What is also misunderstood, DoH-Brevard noted, is just how tragically fast a child can drown — even when they seem safe in a pool in their own backyard.
“It takes less than thirty seconds for a child to drown,” DoH noted.
On April 28, Brevard County Commissioners approved a resolution that declared May as Water Safety and Drowning Prevention Month.
DoH-Brevard is taking that concept to the next level, by working to raise awareness of key life saving drowning prevention methods. The agency has teamed up with the Florida Department of Health’s Office of Injury Prevention in a Waterproof-FL Campaign, which works to educate families on drowning prevention.
“We have also partnered with Clear Channel Media and Entertainment to alert the public about awareness of life saving drowning prevention methods by purchasing air time to broadcast public service announcements and to display digital banner ads on www.mykiss951.com,” the agency noted. “These messages are currently being broadcasted to Brevard County residents and thousands of tourists through June 2015. In addition we are currently showing an on-screen static image at Premiere Oaks 10 in Melbourne prior to each movie in all theaters. These will be displayed until June 15.”
Brevard County isn’t alone. The National Drowning Prevention Alliance, which sponsors National Drowning Prevention Month, works to prevent drowning deaths and aquatic injuries across the nation.
The Alliance noted on its website that “May is a month celebrated outside in the fresh air. Many children begin summer break, families take their first dip in the backyard swimming pool, and vacations long and short revolve around water.”
It also signals a month when drowning tragedies start to rise across the United States, the Alliance noted. That’s why they support National Drowning Prevention Month as a collaborative effort across the nation with other organizations involved in water safety, drowning prevention, and aquatic safety.
As the Alliance noted, statistics show that drowning is the second-leading cause of death to children ages 1-4 in the country, that “In many cases, drowning is a silent event, without splashing or a call for help,” and that “In most areas of the country, the majority of child drownings occur in backyard pools and spas.”
As part of the local campaign, DoH-Brevard is urging families and swimmers to keep in mind that there are some simple water safety steps that can save lives.
“You should stay close, always be alert and watch your children at all times,” the agency noted. “Seconds count so all parents, caregivers, and children should learn and practice survival swimming skills, CPR and have life-saving equipment such as life rings and jackets available for use. You should use barriers such as fencing, pool alarms, or covers. It is also important to avoid drain entrapments. Do not let your children play or swim near drains or suction outlets.”
To learn more about the issue, visit the agency’s web page on “Drowning Prevention”.
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