Urging Children and Families to be Water Wise this Summer

Memorial Day officially marks the beginning of summer, with pools opening and families taking a trip to the beach. It is also the time when water fatalities increase. The Houston YMCA launches its annual campaign to educate the community about drowning prevention. Pat Hernandez has more.
The need to educate the public on water safety in Houston is critical. Ten children have already drowned in the Houston area this year. Last year, 32 children lost their lives due to a tragic water accident. Estella Olguin is with Harris County Childrens Protective Services. She says children spend alot of time engaged in water-related activities.

A woman rescues a mock drowning victim"This is also the time that we know that most of the drownings occur. Between May and September, the summer months, when children are out of school, when it's hot, and you're gonna head out to the pool. The important thing is that pools should not be the baby sitter. Parents need to be there at all times, and just like you would designate a driver, designate a child watcher, someone whose sole responsibility is to keep their eyes on the children."

Hernandez: "Any excuse for the lack of attendance...there is no excuse."

Olguin: "These are accidents, but they're avoidable accidents, and I think people probably think that they can hear their child, the child is in danger, distressed, that the child will be splashing around and asking for help, but that's not the case. Drownings are silent and children will quickly slip under and drown."

A woman performs CPR on a mock drowning victimDrownings claim the lives of nearly 3,000 people every year; but children aged four and younger have the highest drowning death rate. Kenyada Parker is with the Houston Fire Department. He recommends the following pool-safety rules.

"First and foremost, never leave a child unattended. Put as many barriers of protection between your child and the backyard pool as possible, lock doors and windows leading to the pool, add door alarms or self-closing, self-latching devices for outside doors if possible. In Houston, it is required that property fences need to be at least six feet tall around the outer edges of the property with pools in Houston."

Beth Van Winkle is president of the Houston Apartment Association. With nearly half of Houston's population apartment renters, she says the industry has a vested interest in pool safety.

Fire fighters evacuate a mock drowning victim"It's imperative that HAA provide programs to its 2,200 members to teach residents about water safety. With the help of the YMCA, HAA offers the APARTMENT SPLASH program to provide swim lessons to children and apartment communities. One component of the program teaches the children to swim, float and survive in the water, while another component of the program is geared towards teaching parents to watch their children in or near the water."

The YMCA Water Wise Campaign includes a speaker's bureau that promotes water safety, a television and billboard public service campaign, educational materials and access to water safety, CPR and swim lesson information. That can be found at www.ywaterwise.org.

Pat Hernandez-KUHF, Houston Puiblic Radio News.
Bio photo of Pat Hernandez

Pat Hernandez

Reporter

Pat Hernandez is a general assignments reporter who joined the KUHF news staff in February of 2008...