More than 300 teens at eight high schools have volunteered to act as “water safety ambassadors” during this school year and are learning about drowning prevention.
Drowning is the number one cause of unintentional deaths among children under age five in Broward County. The best protections are for an adult to watch children every minute they are around water and to set up layers of protection, such as pool fences, locking gates, door alarms and rescue tools. Swimming lessons for children and adults help.
“Every drowning is a tragedy that could be prevented,” says Dr. Paula Thaqi, director of DOH Broward. “The SPUD program is an innovative way to educate our teen-agers, as well as the small children and their parents.”
The teens are spending months creating new safety messages that resonate with kids. In the process, they offered instructions about water safety they can share with their family and friends.
As the school year progresses, SPUD teens will make presentations to younger students. The high schools where SPUD is active are: Piper in Sunrise, Blanche Ely in Pompano Beach, Miramar, Stranahan in Fort Lauderdale, Coconut Creek, Coral Glades in Coral Springs, Boyd Anderson in Lauderdale Lakes and Deerfield Beach.
The DOH Broward Drowning Prevention Program focuses on children agesfour and under, when kids are believed to be fascinated by water and most at risk for drowning. Risks are elevated in Broward County, with 125,000 backyard pools and miles of waterways.
The main messages to kids, include: Don’t go near the water without an adult; learn to swim; and get help immediately if someone is in trouble around water.
Main messages to adults: Assign an adult water watcher with a cell phone (ideally a strong swimmer) to watch kids whenever they are in or near water. Learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation and how to swim. Set up protective barriers around water.