Got a Pool? Time to Watch that Child
Child 4-years, floats under the watchful eyes of mother at Children's Safety Village of Central Florida, May 8, 2012 (Photo: WONO)
Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings makes remarks at Water Safety & Drowning Prevention Press Conference, Children's Safety Village of Central Florida, May 8, 2012 (Photo: WONO)
Dr. Kevin Sherin, Orange County Health Department speaks at Water Safety & Drowning Prevention Press Conference, May 8, 2012 (Photo: WONO)
Geoff Dawson, President, The Pool Safety Resource speaks at Water Safety & Drowning Prevention Press Conference, May 8, 2012 (Photo: WONO)
Nine-month baby floats in the pool at Children's Safety Village of Central Florida (mom is nearby!) May 8, 2012 (Photo: WONO)
OCSO Sergeant Ken Parker (l) and Master Deputy Sam Bean (r) inside the OCSO Marine Safety & Education Mobile Display, May 8 2012 (Photo: WONO)
OCSO Marine Unit Safety & Education Mobile Display (interior), May 8, 2012 (Photo: WONO)
OCSO Master Deputy Sam Bean (l) and Sergeant Ken Parker chat inside Marine Safety & Education Mobile Display, May 8, 2012 (Photo: WONO)
Display of safety devices inside OCSO Marine Safety & Education Mobile Unit, May 8, 2012 (Photo: WONO)
Sergeant Ken Parker stands outside the OCSO Marine Safety & Education Mobile Display, May 8, 2012 (Photo: WONO)
Child floats in pool at Children's Safety Village of Central Florida, as mom watches. May 8, 2012 (Photo: WONO)
Child, 9 months, swims in pool at Children's Safety Village of Central Florida. May 8, 2012 (Photo: WONO)
Just in time for the summer and with the number of children who actually drown in Florida sufficient to fill 3-4 pre-school classrooms in a year, Orange County government officials at a press conference Tuesday, exhorted families and community residents to be extra vigilant about water safety.
Sheriff Jerry Demings pointed out that drowning is a significant public safety concern in Orange County, particularly during the summer months. Noting that there are about 61,000 homes in the county with pools and spas, he said, for every one drowning there are at least five other water-related accidents resulting in calls to law enforcement and fire personnel. About 58 percent of drowning deaths occurred when there was an adult nearby.
Demings also drew attention to the more than 400 lakes and 31 miles of St. John’s River waterway patroled by the Orange County Sheriff’s Marine Unit, and noted that boating safety was also a top priority. Of the 67 counties, Orange County ranked 22nd in boating accidents and 15th in the number of jet ski accidents.
“This summer, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office would like to ask our families and community residents to be extra vigilant about water safety by adopting and practicing good water safety procedures,” said Demings.
Dr. Kevin Sherin of the Orange County Health Department said, the leading cause of deaths for children between 1-4 years is drowning, with Florida leading the country. But, these deaths are preventable, said Sherin.
“We can’t take our eyes off the children, even for a second,” he said. “Pool safety is everyone’s responsibility; we have to keep our eyes on the kids.”
Sherin urged parents, guardians and family members never to leave a child alone near a pool, spa or body of water and to designate a “water watcher.”
Geoff Dawson of The Pool Safety Resource, currently leading a pool safety awareness campaign in the county, underscored the importance of multiple layers of protection to ensure water safety and to prevent drowning.
Regarding the pool safety campaign, Dawson said about 1,000 children in daycare centers and libraries had already been reached; 5,000 Water Watch Tags would be distributed throughout Orange and Seminole Counties to assist parents in their duties as water watchers, and later this month The Pool Safety Resource would be partnering with the Orlando Science Center to extend the campaign.
Not only is the month of May designated National Water Safety Month, but May 19-25 is Boating Safety Week and appropriately, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office Marine Safety and Education Mobile Display, was present.
The biggest challenge faced by the boating public is inadequate education and that’s where the safety issues arise, says Sergeant Ken Parker of the OCSO Marine Unit. The Marine Unit works to educate boaters by advising on Florida’s statutes and laws and by handing out phamplets on safety issues.
Parker said most of the accidents on Orange County’s lakes are recreational related and more drownings occur on the smaller lakes, where more fishermen tend not to want to wear life preservers.
Asked if there is a single message to be conveyed to the boating public, Parker replied:
“I want people to be educated and to seek out this education before they go out on the water. There are so many courses on line regarding safety, most of them free. I would encourage the boating public to please take the time to educate themselves and their children before going on the water.”
Orange County registered 11 boating accidents in 2011, with one fatality. “Safety, in terms of boating accidents is actually improving when compared to the number of vessels using Orange County waterways,” he said.