Free water safety program set for April 16 at HealthPark
A free water safety program will be held at HealthPark Medical Center on April 16 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. to bring awareness to the various safety tips that can be applied to help prevent drowning.
The most common pool drowning age for children is between 1-4 years old. Dr. Alex Daneshmand, pediatric intensive care doctor said drowning is the highest in that age bracket because that is when children become very curious and are interested in bodies of water, along with learning how to walk.
“They are still trying to get to know their surroundings,” he said. “Getting to know their surroundings without having preventable measures around them can get them into trouble.”
Lee County has been ranked third for the last few years for having the most drownings in the United States for children who are within this age group.
“We are trying to change our ranking,” he said. “We have a great Children’s Hospital here in Lee County and we want to get the message out that drowning is preventable.”
As of 2006, there were 62,481 residential pools, which is the sixth highest in the nation for the number of pools per resident.
“Keep your eyes on the kids,” Daneshmand said. “We want zero drownings in Florida. That is what our goal is because it is preventable.”
He said quite a number of near drownings result in a disability.
“Some do very well and some other ones have disabilities that they have to live the rest of their life with,” Daneshmand said.
Elizabeth Plumley, pediatric intensive care unit nurse, said although pool fences are fabulous they are not enough to keep a child protected. A locked door with an alarm signaling when someone opens the door, she said, is ideal.
Plumley highly recommends a “child watcher program” to keep a child safe while swimming. She said it works by one person being designated to watch their child without reading, texting or talking on their cell phone for 30 minutes.
“Take half hour shifts,” she said, “because you can only pay attention diligently for so long.”
Plumley said swimming lessons are also important because it gives the child the knowledge and ability to float to the surface when in trouble so someone can hear them. Often times it can take up to eight minutes for an adult to notice that their child had fallen into the pool.
“Drowning is perfectly silent,” she said, adding that if children are under water for six to eight minutes severe brain damage can occur.
Daneshmand said the best way to prevent drownings of young children is to create several layers of protection to the body of water that exists.
“Swimming and pools are supposed to be safe and fun,”Daneshmand said.
“We want to make sure that everyone is aware of the safety steps they can take so they don’t have an unpleasant event that would change their children’s life forever.”
The event will feature 15 vendors this year that will hopefully bring the whole community together.
The event is being held, Daneshmand said to shed some light on drownings, along with providing steps to prevent such accidents.
Water stations, games, a bounce house, face painting and more will be offered during the event.
The event will be held at HealthPark Medical Center, 9981 S. HealthPark Drive in Fort Myers.