A new nonprofit task force on Long Island will spread the word about water safety this summer to prevent death and injuries due to drowning.
Here's a scary statistic: Nationwide, drowning is the leading cause of unintentional injury death for children ages 1 to 4 and the second leading cause of unintentional injury death for children 1 to 14 years of age. Perhaps even more disturbing is that most drownings happen in residential pools-when a caregiver was supervising but not paying attention.
Living on an island, we're no strangers to water-related accidents. "Every year there are horror stories," says Bobby Hazen, co-owner of the swim school Saf-T-Swim, who says there were at least a dozen deaths from drowning last summer alone.
In an effort to bring these numbers down on Long Island this summer and for years to come, Hazen founded the Long Island Drowning Prevention Task Force. The ability to achieve that goal, Hazen says, lies in the hands of parents and caregivers. The task force, which is comprised of local health and safety leaders across Nassau and Suffolk Counties, has compiled a 12-page booklet that will be distributed to parents through their pediatricians' offices starting this month. Its goal is to educate parents and caregivers about how to keep children safe around the water, including the importance of and where to find appropriate pool safety equipment, first aid and CPR education, and swimming lessons.
Hazen encourages parents to start their children in swimming lessons or a water safety program before the age of 5, in accordance with a new stance by the American Academy of Pediatrics. "Every summer kids are injured by drowning and a lot of them are 2 to 3 years old. If they can get to a water safety program before that, it might make all the difference. That's what's inspired me-to try to save as many children's lives as we possible can."
The booklet doesn't present new information, Hazen says, but compiles the most important information on water safety and makes it more accessible to parents. "We wanted to create one central location where parents could get this kind of information for their area." In that spirit, the task force will also present this information on its new website: Check out www.lidptf.org.
For those interested in joining the task force or sponsoring a reprinting of the booklet, contact Hazen at LIDPTF@optonline.net.
Also see: Competitive Swimming and Diving: Is It the Right Sport for Your Child?
When to Start Your Child in Swim Lessons