Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

Local News

May 24, 2014

Swimming safety helps prevent drowning deaths

JACKSONVILLE — Swimming is a fun pastime that, for many, signifies the beginning of summer. However, someone can easily let safety precautions slip while relaxing in a cool lake or swimming pool.

To help prevent drowning, the City of Jacksonville launched a program three years ago called “Kids Don’t Float,” according to Jacksonville Fire Department Chief Paul White.

“The reason we started the program is because we typically had a child drown every year in the swimming area at Lake Jacksonville,” he said.  “Since the program has been going, we haven't had anyone drown in the designated swimming area at the Lake.”

The city initially purchased life jackets for the program, but after an article was published in the local paper, a Tyler manufacturer donated several hundred of the floatation devices, White said.

The life jackets are displayed each summer on a rack at the concession stand at Lake Jacksonville with a sign stating they are free to use, also reminding swimmers to please return them when done.

White said a retired fire department captain runs the concession stand, which opens Memorial Day weekend, restocking the jackets as they are used.

“The main precaution that people need to take at the lake is to keep track of the children around water. Kids need to wear a life jacket, especially if they can't swim,” White said.

Here are a few more safety tips from the US Consumer Product Safety Commission:

• Never leave a child unattended in a body of water and always watch your children closely around all bodies of water.

• Designate a water watcher to supervise children. This person should not be reading, texting, using a smart phone or otherwise distracted.

• Learn how to swim and teach your child how to swim.

• Learn how to perform CPR on children and adults.

• Keep children away from pool drains, pipes and other openings to avoid entrapments.

• Ensure any pool and spa you use has drain covers that comply with federal safety standards, and, if you do not know, ask your pool service provider about safe drain covers.

Data from USA Swimming indicates that 70 percent of African American children, 60 percent of Hispanic children, and 40 percent of white children cannot swim.

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