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Pool fence donated to family coping with toddler’s accident

By Staff | Mar 12, 2011

The family of a Cape Coral girl who was involved in a near-drowning accident last month recently received a free pool fence through a new program.
On Feb. 21, 2-year-old Genesis Franco was transported to HealthPark Hospital after her parents found her unconscious and not breathing in the pool at her home in the 1500 block of Southeast 28th Terrace. Her family said she was playing on the lanai when she apparently fell in the water.
Genesis was listed in critical condition Friday, according to hospital staff.
After the incident, Life Saver Pool Fence Systems contacted the Franco family and offered to install a pool fence for free under the company’s new Save a Life Program. The company is headquartered out of Delray Beach.
“Genesis’ case is typically a common case,” president Eric Lupton said.
In 2008, 71 percent of drownings occurred in residential swimming pools, according to the Department of Health’s website.
“Drowning is the No. 1 killer of children under 5,” Lupton said.
Annually, Florida loses more children under the age of 5 to drownings than any other state, according to the Department of Children and Families. Every year about 75 children — enough to fill four pre-school classrooms — drown in the state, while Florida records more than 200 near-drowning incidents.
Last year, DCF investigated the deaths of eight children who drowned. In 2009, it reviewed four. The year before that, DCF looked at another eight.
Lupton came up with the idea for the Save a Life Program last year.
The program provides free pool fences to the families of near-drowning victims, or selected foster families that cannot afford to install a fence.
“I didn’t see anything like this anywhere else,” he said. “I just thought it was one more thing we could do that would help people out in the community.”
The Francos are the first family to benefit from the program, which was implemented this year. According to Lupton, a 4-foot mesh pool safety fence was installed around their pool Thursday, including a manual gate for access.
“They are very pleased with it,” he said.
The Francos also have an 8-year-old daughter.
The company had hoped to install a wireless gate alarm as well.
“It didn’t work out for their layout,” he said.
One goal of the Save a Life Program is to promote pool safety education.
“It’s a large investment, it’s a big purchase,” Lupton said. “I was hoping, by giving away something as large as a pool fence, we could create awareness.”
The second goal is to put fences around pools and help prevent tragedies.
“My goal is for every pool fence we sell to contribute to the donation of another fence,” Lupton said.
According to the Department of Health, there are “layers of protection” that can help prevent drowning and near-drowning incidents in the home. The first layer is supervision — one person must always be actively watching when a child is in or near a body of water.
The second layer of protection is barriers, according to the state website. Childproof locks, door alarms and a pool gate sets obstacles between a child and a pool, making it more difficult to gain access and alerting parents when a child opens an exterior door to the home.
Emergency preparedness rounds out the final layer, including CPR lessons, swimming lessons for small children and infant swimming survival training.
“It’s important to take in all the layers of protection, and it’s better to do something before it happens,” Lupton said.
The Francos could not be reached for comment Friday.
Life Saver Pool Fence Systems has been in business for about 25 years. For more information, call (800) 282-3836 or visit online at: www.poolfence.com.