Time for drowning prevention awareness reminder - WFLA News Channel 8

Time for drowning prevention awareness reminder

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Joanne Walker teaches pre-schoolers to swim at the North Shore Pool in St. Petersburg Joanne Walker teaches pre-schoolers to swim at the North Shore Pool in St. Petersburg

With her wide-brimmed hat, it's easy to spot Joanne Walker among the splashing preschoolers. She has been teaching swimming lessons since 1968, and presently teaches a number of classes at North Shore Pool in St. Petersburg.

After a number of drowning reports filled headlines this weekend, she heard from parents.

"The phone's been ringing off the hook today. It always brings awareness in a bad way unfortunately," said Walker.

According to the Consumer Protection Commission, drowning is the leading cause of accidental death in children under 5 in Florida. Seventy-six percent happen in home pools and surprisingly, 69% of the children weren't expected to be around the water.

Dr. Patrick Mularoni, of All Children's Hospital, confirmed this is usually the time of year when he sees more drowning accidents in the emergency room.

"Kids come out of the their house, people don't know they're out of the house, there's not an alarm system that beeps when they leave the house and there's no sensor on the door. I've also seen situation where a child crawled thru a dog door to get to a pool," said Dr. Mularoni.

When visiting grandma or a friend's pool, Walker is a big proponent of the Safety Turtle, a wrist band that sounds an alarm when it hits water. It retails for about $260.00.

"People that drown are not screaming out saying 'help me, help me'. They're actually very quiet. They drink water and they go down," said Walker.

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