WEST PALM BEACH, FLA - Anna Stewart is the manager for the Drowning Prevention Coalition of Palm Beach County. She's seen more than her fair share of tragedy on the water. "We've had 744 drowning deaths between 1997 and 2010," said Stewart.
According to Stewart, the majority of the lives lost, belong to children. "Children ages one through four have the highest drowning rate based on population in Palm Beach County. The reason those incidents are happening is because there's a lapse or a breakdown in adult supervision," said Stewart.
To prevent those tragedies, the coalition created the "ABC's" of water safety. "A is for adult supervision. Never take your eyes off of the children," said Stewart. "You have to always be near the kids. You never know with the weather...they could always just drift away or go off in another area," added Rosa Pringle, a retired United States Air Force Medic, visiting her family in Riviera Beach.
Stewart also says that adults should watch children in shifts, and don't allow outside distractions to shift focus from the kids. "B is for barriers, boating safety, and beach safety. Make sure you have fencing around the pool itself. Alarms that go off in case something breaches or enters the water," said Stewart.
It's also a good idea to only swim on guarded beaches. When out on the water, life jackets are life savers as long as you wear them. "And finally, C is for classes. Everybody should know how to swim. We encourage children especially, to get water safety classes," said Stewart. However, even knowing how to swim is not a guarantee against drowning, so stay alert. Stewart says CPR classes are also beneficial. "Adults as well as baby-sitters should always know CPR. It can save somebody's life, particularly in a drowning incident," said Stewart. "I think everybody should have that when they have kids and family. Saving lives is always needed when you're in a big family," said Pringle.
For more information on how you and your family can stay safe in or on the water, call the Drowning Prevention Coalition of Palm Beach County at 561-616-7068.
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