Date: May 26, 2000 "For Immediate Release"
To: News Media
From: Sheriff Lawrence W. Crow, Jr.
Media Contact: Sterling Ivey, 863 534-6377 or 819-0221 pager
Water Safety Tips

Each year law enforcement must respond to tragic scenes involving drowning and water-related injuries of children and adults. Polk County Sheriff's Office deputies most often see these water-related type injuries near swimming pools, creeks, ponds and ditches. Just a few inches of water is all it takes for a young child to suffocate and drown. Several years ago Sheriff's Office, East Division, deputies responded to the drowning of a toddler who had fallen head first into a bucket of rain water.

As Florida's weather begins to get warmer, we would like to offer a few extra water safety tips:

SUPERVISION: is a key element in getting maximum, safe enjoyment from any pool; one adult person must assume primary responsibility for supervising. The rules should be clearly communicated and understood by all persons, young and old. Young children and non-swimmers should be taught about important safety precautions. Keep toys, tricycles, and other children's playthings away from a pool or spa.

ABILITY: to swim must not be overestimated. Know your own capabilities. If you are unsure, you should remain in shallow waters. Never swim alone or allow others to do so. Never swim when overtired, feeling chilled, or after taking drugs or alcohol. It is best not to swim immediately after eating a heavy meal.

HEADFIRST ENTRY: can quickly become a serious situation. The chief danger for divers or headfirst sliders is serious spinal injury. Spinal injuries can occur even at very slow speeds if the head strikes firmly against the bottom or side. In an aboveground pool, there should be no diving or headfirst entry. If the depth of the water is unknown, always go in the water feet first.

JUMPING AND HORSEPLAY: can also quickly lead to serious injuries. Jumping incorrectly into shallow water can be dangerous, and injuries, such as a broken leg, can occur if you hit bottom with sufficient force. Before jumping, know the depth of the water and look out for any submerged obstacles, surface objects or other swimmers.

BARRIERS: should be installed and maintained. An isolation fence should be installed that completely separates the swimming pool/spa from the house and yard. The fencing should be a minimum of four feet in height with vertical spacing not exceeding four inches. Always drain standing water off of a pool/spa cover. Be sure door alarms, certified pool safe ty covers, self-closing doors and latching doors are properly maintained.

EDUCATION: is the key in preventing water-related injuries. Make sure you know how to swim; if you don't, enroll yourself and/or your child in swimming lessons. Never consider your child "drown proof," even after swimming lessons. Lessons are not a substitute for supervision by a responsible adult. Don't rely on water wings or inflatable devices to keep your child afloat. They are not fool-proof and are not a substitute for supervision.

EMERGENCIES: should be prepared for by all. Learn how to give CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation), first aid and other lifesaving practices to adults and children. Teach members of your family how to contact local emergency medical services. Post 9-1-1 in an easy to see place. NEVER LEAVE A CHILD UNSUPERVISED IN OR NEAR ANY BODY OF WATER, EVEN FOR A SECOND.

For more information about this and other community services programs, please call the Sheriff's Office Community Services Section at 863-534-6377.

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Distribution: Undersheriff, Division Commanders, Communications, News Media

A text only version of this release is also available.

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