National Drowning Prevention Month: Water safety tips are key

Pinellas County

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Temperatures are heating up and whether it’s a day out on the boat or pool day at home, water safety is important for everyone to know.

Designating a water watcher, knowing CPR, and wearing life jackets are all key factors in preventing drownings.

The Pinellas Park Fire Department teamed up with the Recreation Center to hold a drive-thru “Fun in the Sun” water safety event Saturday. Fire and Life Safety Educator of Pinellas Park Jillian Rose gave many tips for families to be informed right before Memorial Day.

When it comes to life jackets, not just any will do. It must be a US Coast Guard-approved life jacket.

“Flotation devices such as floaties don’t help save lives,” Rose said. “The Coast Guard-approved life jackets are designed and tested as life-saving devices. The size of a life jacket is also determined by weight.”

While on a boat, both children and adults should wear them at all times. She stressed that “accidents can happen fast, you never when they’re going to occur and you want to be ready.”

Saturday also kicks off National Safe Boating Week.

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, Florida has the “unfortunate distinction of being the national leader in annual boating fatalities.” On average, one person dies per week and the majority are boaters who fall overboard and drown because they don’t have a life jacket on.

One of the best life-saving devices at home is a designated water watcher for the pool. The fire department handed out badges Saturday which Rose said should be given to one person for no more than 15 to 20 minutes at a time.

During the shift, the adult should not be eating or drinking and have no other distractions so they can focus on the children, “this way mom doesn’t think that dad’s watching,” and vice versa. There’s always one designated person.

Pool barriers, safety gates, and alarms are important on pools even if there are no children in the home because the pool may be enticing to a neighbor’s child.

Barriers and gates are not always childproof though and teaching children how to swim, even at a young age can prevent drownings as well. Infants can be taught to turn on their back if they fall in the pool, even as young as 6 months.

In the event of a drowning, knowing and performing CPR increases the chance of survival while waiting for emergency personnel to arrive. On average it takes four to eight minutes for EMS to respond to a call.

According to Rose, the chance of survival decreases by about 10% for every minute that compressions are not given on a non-breathing drowning victim.

During the event Saturday, the Pinellas Park Fire Department first responders demonstrated hands-only CPR for the cars driving through. People were able to stop and watch the demonstration. The Bee Gees song “Stayin’ Alive” played in the background. Compressions given to this beat will keep someone giving CPR at the right rate.

Free CPR lessons will be offered in June and July in Pinellas Park. Stay tuned to the fire department’s Facebook page for more information.

Drowning is preventable. Knowledge is power when it comes to water safety and having the right information will help you and your family stay safe around water this summer.

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