The City of Santa Clarita held its first Water Safety Day to create water safety awareness for parents and children. Held at the Santa Clarita Aquatic Center, families had the chance to learn CPR, watch a puppet show by the American Red Cross, and hear from the Los Angeles County Fire Department’s water safety mascot, “Stewie the Duck.”
Booths hosted by lifeguards from the Santa Clarita Aquatic Center, the LA County Fire Department, and the American Red Cross provided instructional materials and interactive presentations on safety for kids around the water.
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In an instructional video hosted by Timon and Pumbaa, characters from Disney’s The Lion King, kids were reminded to start with sunscreen, not “stampede” around the pool, and never use the pool as a toilet. The video ended with a cheerful chorus of “Think before you get wet!”
“Stewie the Duck” made two appearances throughout the event and participated in the reading of Stewie the Duck Learns to Swim by LA County firefighters. Children sang along with the firefighters as they learned Stewie’s water safety song to the tune of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.” Stewie the Duck is from the Stew Leonard III Children’s Charities foundation, founded in honor of Stew Leonard III, a young boy who drowned in 1989.
Lifeguards from the Aquatic Center quizzed parents on their knowledge of the risks for children around water and gave hands-on CPR instruction to kids and parents. Volunteers from the American Red Cross performed a puppet show about disaster preparedness.
For participating in the various instructional opportunities, visitors received raffle tickets to win free life jackets, swim lesson certificates, coloring books, and sunscreen.
If you missed out on the event, continue reading to get some important information on water safety.
In 2007, there were more than 3,000 fatal drownings in non-boating related accidents in the United States, according to the Center for Disease Control. Nearly 80% of those who drown are male.
The Los Angeles County Fire Department reports that drowning is the leading cause of death in California for children, specifically young boys, between the ages of one and four.
“It only takes a few minutes for a child to drown or be permanently injured or disabled. Even children who can swim should never be left alone in a pool – even for 30 seconds,” said Los Angeles County Fire Department Assistant Chief Bill Niccum.
According to the CDC, participation in formal swim lessons can reduce the risk of drowning by 88% for one to four year olds.
“Its very important for kids to have swim lessons. Learning at a young age is the best things possible, starting with babies in our parent-child lessons, in case something happens. We give lessons that teach the basics of floating, basic freestyle, what to do when you’re stuck in deep water,” said Sydney Supowit, a lifeguard at the Santa Clarita Aquatic Center.
“Children should be educated, take swim lessons and wear life vests (not flotation devices). However, these are only tools and will not prevent drowning. An adult who can swim should always have their eyes on a child or children swimming in a pool or any body of water,” explained Niccum, who wants everyone to know that “Children drown without a sound.”
Here are some pool safety tips from the National Drowning Prevention Alliance:
- Never leave a child unattended near water in a pool, tub, bucket, or ocean. There is no substitute for adult supervision.
- Designate a “Water Watcher” to maintain constant watch over children in the pool during gatherings.
- The home should be isolated from the pool with a fence at least 60” tall, with a self-closing, self-latching gate. The gate should open away from the pool, and should never be propped open.
- Doors and windows should be alarmed to alert adults when opened. Doors should be self-closing and self-latching.
- Power-operated pool safety covers are the most convenient and efficient. Solar/floating pool covers are not safety devices.
- Keep a phone at poolside so that you never have to leave the pool to answer the phone, and can call for help, if needed.
- Learn CPR and rescue breathing.
- Keep a life-saving ring, shepherd’s hook, and CPR instructions mounted at poolside.
- Do not use flotation devices as a substitute for supervision.
- Never leave water in buckets or wading pools.
- If a child is missing, always check the pool first. Seconds count.
- Remove toys from in and around the pool when not in use.
- Don’t use floating chlorine dispensers that look like toys.
- Instruct babysitters about potential pool hazards, and emphasize the need for constant supervision.
- Responsibilities of pool ownership include ensuring children in the home learn to swim and that adults know CPR.
- Do not consider children “drownproof” because they have had swimming lessons.
The American Red Cross offers these “Safety in the Water” tips:
- Know how to prevent, recognize, and care for heat emergencies.
- Choose a safe place for water recreation. Be aware of any water hazards.
- Use Coast Guard-approved life jackets when boating.
- Check local weather conditions and be prepared for potential weather problems.
- Remember important safety equipment: pole or shepherd’s crook, rescue tube, buoy, throw bag, heavy jug or throw line.
- Never swim alone.
- Swim only in supervised areas.
- Do not go swimming if you have been drinking alcohol.
- Use common sense about swimming after eating.
- Do not chew gum or eat while swimming.
- Enter feet first if you do not know the depth.
- Know your swimming limits and stay within them.
- Keep an eye on weaker swimmers.
- Learn the correct way to dive safely.
- Never leave children unattended.
- Flotation devices should complement adult supervision, not replace it.
- When watching infants or toddlers near water, always stay within an arm’s reach.
- Always have a “watch buddy” present.
- Consider hiring a professional lifeguard for private pool parties.
Preventative measures suggested by The American Red Cross in pools, spas, water parks, oceans, lakes, buckets, and tubs include:
- Never use a spa after drinking alcohol.
- Gates should open outward, away from the pool to prevent toddlers and small children from leaning against the gate and opening it.
- Doggy doors must be sealed properly to prevent small children from crawling through and out to the pool area.
- Pay attention to posted signs and any lifeguard instructions.
- Always slide face up and feet first on waterslides.
- Use life jackets if available.
- If caught in a current, don’t try to swim against it; swim parallel and gradually angle towards shore.
- Make sure you always have enough energy to swim back to shore.
- Any water deep enough to cover the nose and mouth of an infant/toddler can cause drowning.
- Empty cleaning buckets immediately after use.
- Never leave children unattended in a bathtub.
- Keep bathroom doors closed to stop a toddler from reaching the toilet.
The Los Angeles County Fire Department suggests that if a child or adult is in trouble in a pool:
- Don’t panic, yell for help.
- Get the child out of the pool immediately.
- Call 911 immediately for emergency medical service.
- Begin CPR, if necessary.
- If you are not trained in CPR, follow telephone instructions from the Fire Department until they arrive to assist you.