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Lives saved in ‘Sanibel Swims’ drowning prevention program

By Staff | Oct 8, 2013

The Sanibel City Council was briefed Tuesday morning about the success of “Sanibel Swims,” a program to prevent child drownings.

Sanibel Recreation Center Director Andrea Miller and staff said a total of 277 adults and children were served through a $16,060 grant from the Charitable Foundation of the Islands. The grant was awarded last year and the recreation center used it to plan free swimming lessons, water safety education classes, and free Red Cross CPR classes.

Seventy children in grades K-8 received swimming lessons, as well as 73 children in the summer camp, and 40 children from age six months to 12 years old. Seventy-one people, aged 12 and older, got free CPR classes and 30 children completed the Whales Tale Water Safety Education program.

Lee County has the third highest incident rate of child drownings statewide, behind Miami-Dade and Broward, explained Michele King, director of Child Advocacy at the Golisano Children’s Hospital.

According to a recent study by the Children’s Safety Network, 202 children under the age of 14 drowned in a swimming pool or spa in the United States each year. Drowning is the leading cause of death for children aged 1-4 and 70 percent of those drownings occur in residential pools.

King said that between Memorial Day and Labor Day in 2013, when the danger was highest, Lee County experienced no child drownings.

“I’m pleased to say that at the children’s hospital we had no drowning deaths this summer,” said King.

There were two submerged injuries reported, she said, but they didn’t end fatally.

“It really is a fantastic project they’re doing, the Charitable Foundation was generous in promoting this,” said Sanibel Vice Mayor Doug Congress.

Councilmembers also credited the program as being successful in preventing childhood drownings.

“It would be great if you could take something that is successful, like this program, and get it out to the other communities,” said Sanibel Councilmember Marty Harrity.