Date: April 5, 2001 "For Immediate Release"
To: News Media
From: Sheriff Lawrence W. Crow, Jr.
Media Contact: Michal Shanley, 863 534-6631 or 819-0397 pager

With the arrival of warmer weather that typically draws people outside to enjoy Florida's climate and water attractions, the Polk County Sheriff's Office would like to take this opportunity to offer water safety tips in hopes of preventing tragic drowning or water-related accidents. 

Each year, law enforcement officers respond to tragic scenes involving drowning and water-related injuries of children and adults. Deputies most often see these type of 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. The Sheriff's Office urges all those who will be taking advantage of water recreational activities this time of year to follow these water safety tips: 

Supervision is a key element in getting maximum, safe enjoyment from any pool. One adult per person must assume primary responsibility for supervision. The rules should be clearly communicated and understood by everyone. Young children and non-swimmers should be taught important water safety precautions. Keep toys, tricycles and other 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 water. Never swim alone or allow others to do so. Never swim when overtired, feeling chilled or after consuming alcohol or drugs. 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 low speeds if the head strikes firmly against the bottom or side. In an above-ground pool, there should be no diving or headfirst entry. If the depth of the water is unknown, always go into the water feet first.

Jumping and horseplay also can quickly lead to serious injury. Jumping incorrectly into shallow water can be dangerous. Injuries such as a broken leg can occur if the bottom is hit with sufficient force. Before jumping, determine the depth of the water, and look 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. 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 safety covers, self-closing doors and latching doors are properly maintained. 

Education is the key to preventing water-related injuries. Make sure you and your family know how to swim. Consider enrolling those who don't know how to swim 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 rings or inflatable devices to keep your child afloat. They are not fool-proof and are not substitutes 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 your family how to contact local emergency medical services. Post 9-1-1 in an easy place to see. Never leave a child unsupervised in or near any body of water, even for a second!

Distribution: Undersheriff, Division Commanders, Communications, News Media

A text only version of this release is also available.

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