WATER SAFETY SAVES LIVES
Broward County is a great place for a swim. Not only is the weather ideal all year long, we are bordered on the east by the Atlantic Ocean and on the west by the river of grass otherwise known as the Florida Everglades. Our communities are full of picturesque lakes, canals, swimming pools and backyard spas, but parents need to be aware that these bodies of water are all potential death traps where toddlers are concerned.
Children are naturally drawn to water. In Florida, drowning is the leading cause of death for children under the age of four. According to the Broward County Medical Examiner, more children in our area drown in backyard pools than in the ocean or anywhere else. Every year children senselessly lose their lives and I am committed to changing this disturbing trend.
As part of our "SPLASH" initiative, which stands for Supervise, Protection, Lessons, Alarms, Search, Help, the Broward Sheriff's Office is reinforcing our efforts to stop these entirely preventable tragedies. The program, which is specifically designed by first responders, educates families to:
- Always supervise children around any body of water – keeping children within touching distance.
- Utilize layers of protection including fences with self-closing gates, locks on gates and doors and pool covers.
- Children need swim lessons as soon as they are able to crawl.
- All doors leading to any body of water should have an audible alarm to indicate when they are being opened.
- Any time a child is missing, immediately search all bodies of water first. Do not scan, thoroughly look.
- Call for help by dialing 911 immediately, every second counts so use the phone while checking bodies of water.
Water safety is not just for pools. Boaters of all ages need to have life jackets handy, even if they are good swimmers. It's a simple precaution in case your canoe flips or your boat springs a leak. Children riding in boats must always wear their personal flotation devices. If your boat capsizes you won't have time to pass out life preservers to your young passengers. Simple life jackets are available at stores everywhere for just a few dollars. Why would any parent not buy one and have their child wear it when they are boating? And, by the way, whether you are cruising the Atlantic in a sailboat or skimming the Everglades in an airboat, tell someone about your "float plan" so they can call the Broward Sheriff's Office or Coast Guard if you fail to return home on time.
You can learn more about the Broward Sheriff's Office drowning prevention efforts and boating safety by visiting our website at www.sheriff.org. As always, you can stay up to date about BSO news and information when you become a fan of our Facebook page (Broward Sheriff's Office – Official), follow us on Twitter@browardsheriff or sign up for our CyberVisor program.
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