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Swimming Safer This Summer in Palm Beach County

07/18/2014
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Government Agencies, City Officials Offer Information, Outreach on Water Risks

Summer is heating up, and children are cooling down, poolside. Because of all the splish-splashing going on, it is a good time for parents to remember the risks associated with water activities.

Fathers and mothers can start by asking a few good questions about their children, including whether they could reach safety should they jump into the pool without their water wings, whether they are able to reach and open doors and gates leading to the pool and whether they would enter a body of water without an adult present. By answering those most basic of queries, parents can ascertain their little ones’ levels of risk.

Ocean Fun

Knowing those levels of risk is crucial, as the leading cause of drowning in Palm Beach County is unsupervised swimming, according to the Drowning Prevention Coalition of Palm Beach County. The cause is greatest in children ages 1 through 4.

To keep such tragedies from taking place, the coalition has made available to consumers tons of tips offering information about how to stay smart around the water. Among the tips – the “ABCDs of Water Safety.”

A is for adult supervision. Adults should swim no less than an arm’s-length away from toddlers. With older children, adults should take turns watching everyone in the pool without distraction (books, cell phones and conversations with other adults.)

B is for barriers, beaches and boating. Many communities have codes that require enclosures around pools. Make sure they are working properly and not broken and are childproof. It is recommended parents take their children only to beaches with on-duty lifeguards, as more than 100 swimmers die every year after getting caught in rip currents, according to the United State Lifesaving Association. Among the keys to safe boating are experience, knowledge and preparedness. It’s a fact most boaters who drown in accidents knew how to swim. The U.S. Coast Guard promotes the wearing of lifejackets at all times while onboard.

C is for classes. Click here for a list of swimming lessons available at area aquatics facilities.

D is for drain safety. Defective pool drains can cause suction that endangers, injures or traps children underwater.

Two Palm Beach County cities have stepped up their swim-safety programs this summer – Boynton Beach and Palm Beach Gardens. Boynton Beach’s Recreation and Parks Department was awarded a $5,000 Make a Splash grant from the USA Swimming Foundation. The grant will go directly to swimming lessons at the city’s John Denson Pool.

“This grant permits the City of Boynton Beach to teach our younger residents how to swim and survive in the waterway systems surrounding Florida,” department director Wally Majors said in a media release.

One of 57 awarded this year, the grant will provide scholarships for families unable to afford swimming lessons.

In Palm Beach Gardens, city officials debuted an event called Poolapalooza that nearly 350 residents and nonresidents attended. The event emphasized water safety and featured

CPR demonstrations by Palm Beach Gardens Fire Rescue officials, as well as free literature from Drowning Prevention Coalition of Palm Beach County representatives.

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