Respect the Water: Drowning Prevention Coalition
Children drown in silence. To the members of the Drowning Prevention Coalition, it is not just a slogan, but a reality. The Coalition formed in March of 2010 following an astonishing nine drowning deaths in El Paso County the year before. The mission of the Drowning Prevention Coalition is outreach to raise community awareness on water safety. According to the Drowning Foundation, 19 percent of drowning deaths involving children occur in public pools with certified lifeguards present. Even having the basic knowledge of life saving skills can be crucial in a drowning emergency.
Christian Castle drowned at age four surrounded by attentive family and friends. According to the Orange County Fire Authority, of all preschoolers who drown, 70 percent are in the care of one or both parents at the time of the drowning and 75 percent are missing from sight for five minutes or less. “It can happen to anyone. I wish people would understand that. It doesn’t mean that you’re a bad parent, drowning can happen to anyone,” said Christian’s mother Laura Castle. Laura is a member of the DPC, and a staunch swim advocate. KFOX also partnered with the Drowning Prevention Coalition. News Director Elizabeth O’Hara said some things go beyond reporting. “It’s not enough to report these tragedies in the evening news, we have to stop them,” said O'Hara. “No family should be shattered because of a child’s preventable drowning.”
The sizzling summer is almost upon us, and kids will be heading to the nearest body of water to cool off. On April 2nd, several area pools opened for the first time this season for the second annual "April Pools Day." The Drowning Prevention Coalition would like to show kids and adults alike how to swim safely. Parents, grandparents and caregivers will learn about water safety, water park safety, entrapment prevention, swim lessons, CPR classes, and at-home tips will be available to all who come. Free swimming will follow all presentations. Several different agencies comprise the Drowning Prevention Coalition, including the UMC Foundation, UMC, American Red Cross, Clear Channel Outdoor, El Paso Parks & Recreation, El Paso Fire Department, El Paso Police Department, El Paso Water Utilities, KFOX, Price’s Creamery, YMCA, YWCA, Wet & Wild, McDonald’s, Ysleta Del Sur Wellness, Park University and several other agencies. For more information on the Drowning Prevention Coalition you can log on to umcfoundationelpaso.org and click on Water Safety Fund.
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