Whether families are taking the summer plunge in a backyard pool, lake, or ocean, it’s important they understand that, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drowning remains the #1 cause of accidental death among children ages one to four.
That statistic is one of the many reasons Kelly Wiggins, founder of Seminole County’s Swim Life water-safety school, has partnered with Orlando Health to expand pediatric drowning prevention efforts throughout the region. As part of the initiative, 10,000 water-safety coloring books are being distributed to childcare, VPK, and preschool facilities.
“Children are naturally attracted to water, especially when bath and pool time are associated with toys, laughter, and parental attention,” Kelly says.
But water is not a fun or safe place to be if a child hasn’t learned how to hold his or her breath, swim back to safety, or float to rest and breathe. Swim Life provides children and parents the opportunity to learn the keys to survival swimming in a fun environment.
“I have been a pediatrician for more than 25 years, and every year I have at least one patient drown,” says Dr. Mitchell Madden, pediatrician with Orlando Health Physician Associates. “The parents are usually within 20 yards when this occurs. Educating parents on the dangers of accidental drowning and encouraging swim lessons is one of the most important things we do.”