Tag Archive for: drowning prevention

Drowning prevention is a critical yet often overlooked issue, particularly concerning the safety of young children. In the wake of her daughter Kourtney’s tragic drowning, Kristina Andrews took a stand against this silent crisis by founding ‘Kourtney’s Kause.’ Her initiative stands as a poignant example of transforming personal loss into a force for greater awareness and education in water safety. Kristina’s journey underscores the vital need for water competency, proactive measures, and the tools and knowledge for families to protect their loved ones.

We are proud to announce our November 2023 Water Safety Champion of The Month, Kristina Andrews!

The Genesis of Kourtney’s Kause

Kristina’s journey began with a profound loss. After the drowning of her daughter, Kourtney, she faced an unsettling reality: there was only one Infant Swimming Resource (ISR) instructor in the entire Bay Area. As a mother determined to protect her six-month-old son and other children, she saw the need for accessible, affordable ISR lessons – a program that teaches infants and toddlers essential survival skills in water.

Kristina spearheaded efforts to bring ISR lessons to more families in the South Bay Area by starting Kourtney’s Kause. They focused on making these lessons not only accessible but also accommodating to various schedules, catering to both working and non-working parents. The organization expanded rapidly, now reaching over a 50-mile span, with aspirations to own an indoor space for year-round training.

However, Kristina’s vision extends beyond immediate survival skills. Kourtney’s Kause is currently developing a transition program for students who have completed survival swim lessons, aiming to bridge the gap to more advanced swimming techniques and strokes so that children can learn to acclimate to new physical attributes, weight, and buoyancy and maintain confidence in and around water.

Addressing Misinformation and Unifying the Approach

A crucial part of Kristina’s mission is addressing and correcting common misconceptions about drowning prevention. She emphasizes that ISR lessons are not about “throwing babies in water” but about gentle, gradual, and skilled instruction over a six-week course. Each ISR program is meticulously designed, differing significantly from non-certified programs that might imitate but not replicate ISR’s effectiveness and safety.

Along with addressing misinformation, the goal is to diminish the tension between different swimming methodologies. Kristina believes in a collaborative approach, where recognition from larger organizations can help break down barriers and foster a unified goal. Ideally, every child would start with survival swim lessons, with a seamless transition to more advanced techniques as they grow. Kourtney’s Kause is working to set an example for others to follow by implementing transition lessons for children who have completed their ISR course.

Actionable Advice for Parents and Caregivers

In her journey, Kristina encountered a startling gap in awareness and information regarding water safety, especially from child advocates. Despite being a diligent parent, she was unaware of the risks associated with water, as she didn’t have a pool at home. This lack of awareness is common among many parents who may not perceive water as a significant danger if it isn’t a prominent feature in their daily lives. 

This oversight is something Kourtney’s Kause is striving to address. It’s a reminder that drowning doesn’t discriminate based on proximity to a pool or natural body of water. The organization’s efforts extend beyond physical swimming lessons to encompass education and advocacy, emphasizing that knowledge and awareness are crucial. This education aims to fill the void left by conventional child safety advice, ensuring that parents and caregivers are equipped with comprehensive information to safeguard their children in all environments, water included.

Thank You For Making A Difference In Water Safety!

Stories like Kristina’s, one of hope rising after profound loss, are a testament to the strength of the human spirit. They speak even more to the innate sense of responsibility to the people and world around us. It’s not just about teaching survival skills in the water but also about fostering a broader awareness of water safety and, in turn, saving lives.

Thank you for being a Water Safety Champion!

If you are making a difference in water safety and drowning prevention or know someone who is, we want to hear your story. 
Please take a moment to share the story on our website for a chance to be nationally recognized as a Water Safety Champion.

water safety champion of the month dr linda quan

Every year, thousands face the danger of drowning, making water safety a matter of paramount importance. The battle against drowning is one fueled by clinical observation, meticulous research, and deep passion. 

Few voices echo with as much authority and passion as Dr. Linda Quan’s. As an advocate for over four decades, her dedication and scientific rigor shine through every initiative she undertakes. 

We are proud to announce our October 2023 Water Safety Champion of The Month, Dr. Linda Quan.

The Origins of a Lifesaving Mission

Dr. Quan’s dedication to water safety was sparked during her pediatric residency and subsequent fellowship, where she encountered numerous out-of-hospital cardiac arrests, predominantly from drownings. Her collaboration with Medic One, groundbreaking in its time, exposed her to the harrowing realities of water-related incidents, especially a case involving a three-year-old. This propelled her to delve deeper into resuscitation and drowning prevention, ultimately establishing an exhaustive database detailing drowning events of children under 21. 

The effects of her efforts reverberated through governmental corridors, resulting in the enactment of laws targeting unmaintained pools.

Research and Study on Drowning

Dr. Quan’s endeavors highlighted an essential truth: there’s an alarming lack of scientific focus in the realm of drowning prevention. “It’s been kind of a free-for-all,” she remarks. Throughout her career, she has strived to elevate the discourse on drowning from anecdotal evidence to a science-driven one.

Her extensive research, including work on the U.S. National Water Safety Action Plan, underscores the critical role of documentation in identifying at-risk groups. For instance, toddlers are frequently recognized as a high-risk category, but we cannot overlook other demographics. Her research underscored the need for a comprehensive focus on drowning prevention, not just limited to children. While the pediatric world concentrates on the high-risk toddler group, Dr. Quan’s research suggests that the age bracket of teenagers to 24 years is also alarmingly susceptible.

A Holistic Approach to Prevention

One of the cornerstones of Dr. Quan’s efforts has been fostering community awareness. She has continually sought to rally various factions within the water safety community to unify their approaches. She brought together diverse stakeholders, including swim coaches, coroners, lifeguards, and marine patrol, ensuring a holistic approach to water safety. 

Her collaborations with entities like Seattle Children’s Hospital, the University of Washington School of Medicine, and various governmental bodies have been instrumental in drafting policies that bolster water safety. A prime example is the law mandating the fencing or covering of unmaintained pools. But there’s more to be done. Her county experienced no pediatric drownings over a span of three years, but, as she stresses, “This isn’t politics. This is what good government does.” 

Dr. Quan advocates for a more extensive community approach to water safety that addresses the entire age spectrum. She emphasizes the role of parents in not only safeguarding toddlers but also in educating older children about the distinct risks associated with open water.

She envisions a harmonized community approach, where all stakeholders rally behind a unified, evidence-based water safety initiative.

Moving Towards a Safer Future

As technology and medicine progress, Dr. Quan envisions a future where the tenets of resuscitation are further refined. There’s no denying the advancements in drowning resuscitation, but as Dr. Quan astutely points out, “people need to acquire skills and knowledge – at least the basics.” Resuscitation is an essential aspect, but the broader objective should be prevention. 

“What are the rules?” she poses, urging that foundational water safety knowledge be universally ingrained.

Thank You For Making A Difference In Water Safety!

Dr. Quan’s journey reminds us that the journey to comprehensive water safety is multifaceted, requiring not just expertise but heart. Her tireless work underscores the importance of data-driven solutions, the cornerstone of any effective preventative strategy. 

Yet, beyond the cold numbers lies an undying passion, a fervent belief that every life saved from drowning is a testament to the collective efforts of a community united in purpose.

Thank you for being a Water Safety Champion!

If you are making a difference in water safety and drowning prevention or know someone who has, we want to hear your story. 
Please take a moment to share the story on our website for a chance to be nationally recognized as a Water Safety Champion.

water safety resources

Welcome to our Water Safety Resources Center! A dedicated space where we endeavor to empower our readers with life-saving knowledge, insights, and practical resources on maintaining safety in and around water. Water is a source of joy and relaxation for many, but it can quickly become a place of danger without the proper safety measures. 

Given the critical importance of water safety, especially for children, we have curated a collection of invaluable resources, expert advice, and the latest research findings aimed at fostering a safer interaction with water environments. 

Whether you are a parent, educator, pediatrician, swim instructor, or water enthusiast, we want to provide the tools and information necessary to prevent water-related accidents and emergencies. 

Join us in our mission to stop drowning by making water safety a priority and equipping yourself and your loved ones with the knowledge to enjoy water responsibly and securely!

Water Safety At Home

Infant Water Safety

Water Safety for Adults

Open Water Safety

Water Safety for Kids

Water Safety Policy and Legislation

*The NDPA does not necessarily endorse the policies and legislations below. We work to share the latest information with stakeholders.

Water Safety Toolkits

Water Safety Career Paths

5 Layers of Protection

Water Safety for Every Season

Water Safety Checklists

Water Safety Champion

Water Safety in the US

Global Water Safety

NDPA Education & Gatherings

Water Safety Champion of the Month Mayor Melvin Carter

In Minnesota, a state lovingly referred to as the “Land of 10,000 Lakes,” the importance of water safety cannot be understated. It is here that Saint Paul Mayor Melvin Carter, with his relentless drive and passion, has emerged as a beacon of change for water safety initiatives with the understanding that water competency should be a right, not a privilege.

Water is inviting, yet it poses a danger when not approached with the necessary skills and caution. Rooted in personal experiences and fueled by the collective needs of his community, Mayor Carter’s initiatives and proposed programs aim to ensure that every child, regardless of socioeconomic background, gains access to essential swimming lessons.

We are proud to announce our September Water Safety Champion of The Month, Mayor Melvin Carter.

Growing Up Surrounded by Water

Growing up, Mayor Carter, along with his siblings and friends, would often be found diving and swimming for hours at their local community center. It wasn’t just about fun; it was about community and culture. But today, many kids miss formal swimming lessons, largely due to the prohibitive costs. “Our youth deserve every opportunity to be successful, which involves eliminating barriers to learning,” he states.

This gap in access underscores why water safety has become a crucial issue for local governments.

The Need for Local Governments to Prioritize Water Safety

Water safety is paramount. Mayor Carter is steadfast in his belief that the local government’s primary role is to ensure the safety and well-being of its residents. When a study from the National Institute of Health highlighted that access to swimming lessons could nearly eradicate the chances of youth drowning, it became clear that more had to be done. By making swimming lessons free, not only can the safety of children be ensured, but it also addresses the socioeconomic disparities prevalent in many communities.

Water Safety Champion of the Month Mayor Melvin Carter

Proposing Free Swim Lessons for Children

Taking inspiration from the success of a previous initiative that eliminated participation fees for youth sports, Mayor Carter is proposing a significant $250,000 investment from the American Rescue Plan to fund free swimming lessons in city-owned pools. This ambitious initiative aims to cater to 2,500 youth under the age of 10 and instill a strong foundation of water safety and competency.

Although this initiative is still in its proposal phase, Mayor Carter has a powerful vision. The existing infrastructure, with instructors recruited from local high schools and classes held at sought-after locations like the Como Park Regional Pool and Highland Park Aquatic Center, lays a promising groundwork for the initiative.

Once the plan gains more clarity, a robust outreach effort involving the Parks and Recreation Department and local partners will take the front seat.

Water Safety Champion of the Month Mayor Melvin Carter

Water Competency For All

Equity and inclusivity are at the heart of the proposed plan. “When we say all children ages 10 and younger, we mean all children,” declares Mayor Carter. The Aquatics teams are equipped to accommodate youth of all abilities, ensuring that everyone has access to these life-saving lessons.

The Path Ahead 

While Mayor Carter is excited about the existing projects like lifeguard recruitment and safety outreach, he believes the community has a pivotal role to play. By becoming lifeguards or vocally supporting policies that further water safety, they can significantly impact these initiatives.

For local government leaders elsewhere, Mayor Carter’s message is simple yet impactful: sometimes, the most straightforward solutions can be the most effective. By removing barriers, such as cost, and fostering partnerships with schools and organizations, a ripple effect can be created, making communities safer and more inclusive.

Thank You For Making A Difference In Water Safety!

Water Safety Champion of the Month, Mayor Melvin Carter, and his dedication to water safety, combined with a commitment to equity, makes him an exemplar for local governments everywhere. In his eyes, water safety isn’t just about preventing accidents; it’s about building communities where every child, regardless of their background, has an opportunity to thrive.

Thank you, your honor, for being a Water Safety Champion!

If you are making a difference in water safety and drowning prevention or know someone who has, we want to hear your story. 
Please take a moment to share the story on our website for a chance to be nationally recognized as a Water Safety Champion.

bath safety tips

Bathing a little one isn’t just about cleanliness; it’s a sweet routine filled with bubbles, toys, and cherished memories. However, even in the splashing and giggling lies a responsibility to ensure the safety of our little ones. ​​Every caregiver should prioritize the child’s safety during bath time, and with these bath safety tips, you can ensure that this daily routine remains both fun and secure.

1. Never Leave Them Unattended

Unlike what many might envision, drowning is often silent. Children can slip under the water without making a sound, especially if they are young and unfamiliar with the dangers of water. Within moments, they can be submerged.

Stay Present:
Always stay within arm’s reach of your child while they’re in the bath. Physical
proximity allows you to react swiftly should they slip or face any difficulty.

A ringing phone, a knock at the door, or a momentarily forgotten item can pull a parent or caregiver away for “just a second.” But a lot can happen in that brief time. The urgency of the moment may trick our minds into believing we’ll be quick, but any distraction that pulls attention away from a bathing child is a risk not worth taking.

Prepare Ahead:
Before starting the bath, gather all the necessary items—soap, shampoo, towels, toys—and place them within easy reach.

Many believe that a small amount of water isn’t enough to pose a risk. This misconception can lead to tragic accidents. Even an inch of water is sufficient for a child to drown, particularly if they are very young or unable to right themselves.

Avoid Over-reliance on Bath Seats or Rings:
While they can provide support, they’re not substitutes for supervision. Children can still tip over or get trapped by these devices. Stay close and minimize distractions!

2. Check Water Temperature

One of the subtle but significant challenges faced by parents and caregivers during bath time is ensuring the right water temperature. Babies and toddlers don’t just enjoy their baths; it’s a sensory experience that aids in their relaxation and sleep. But their tender skin can react adversely to water temperatures that might seem comfortable to an adult. With this in mind, keeping the water temperature at an adequate setting will help keep bath time fun and enjoyable for both child and caregiver.

The Sensitivity of Young Skin:
The epidermis (outer layer of the skin) of babies and toddlers is thinner than in adults. This means they can’t bear the same temperature ranges and are more prone to burns.

Using the Right Testing Method:
Dipping a toe might not give an accurate temperature reading. Instead, the inside of your wrist or elbow, which are more sensitive than other body parts, can offer a more reliable gauge. This method mimics the sensitivity of a child’s skin, giving caregivers a better understanding of how the child might feel.

Precision with Thermometers:
While the elbow test is a good starting point, for those who want to be doubly sure, investing in a water thermometer can be wise. It provides a precise reading, ensuring that the water is neither too hot nor too cold. A range of 37°C to 38°C (98.6°F to 100.4°F) is often recommended for the little ones.

Mix Before You Dip:
Always mix the water well to even out the temperature. Hot water tends to rise, with cold water at the bottom, so proper mixing will prevent areas of extreme temperatures that might harm your child.

Remember, their comfort and safety are in our hands, and with a bit of attention to detail and these bath safety tips, bath time can be a joy for both child and caregiver.

3. Use Non-slip Mats or Stickers

The bathtub’s smooth surface, combined with soapy water, can quickly become a slipping hazard. With slippery conditions, the danger of accidental falls becomes all too real. But, with some foresight, the right tools, and these bath safety tips, these dangers can be minimized. Here’s how you can enhance safety during bath time:

Invest in a Non-Slip Mat:
Placing a non-slip mat inside the tub is one of the most effective ways to increase traction. These mats come in various sizes and designs, often with suction cups on the bottom that secure them firmly to the tub’s surface. They provide a textured surface, reducing the likelihood of slipping, even in soapy conditions.

Adhesive Stickers Can Help Too:
If you’re looking for a less conspicuous option than a mat, consider non-slip stickers. These are often designed with fun shapes, like stars or animals, which can be attractive to children. They stick directly to the tub’s surface and offer added grip without covering the entire tub.

Think Outside the Tub:
While it’s essential to prevent slips inside the tub, don’t forget about the potential hazards just outside it. Wet feet on slick bathroom tiles can be just as dangerous. A non-slip mat placed directly outside the bathtub can absorb excess water and offer secure footing for both the child and the caregiver during the entry and exit processes.

Maintenance Matters:
Over time, non-slip mats and stickers can accumulate soap scum and mold, reducing their effectiveness. It’s crucial to clean them regularly and replace them if they begin to lose their grip or show signs of wear.

With the simple addition of non-slip mats or stickers and a regular maintenance routine, caregivers can significantly reduce the risks associated with slippery bathtubs, ensuring that each bath is as safe as it is fun.

bath safety tips

4. Store Bath Products Safely

The bathroom can be a magical place for children, from the gentle water to the bubbles that form on the surface and the array of interesting bottles lined up on the edges. However, this excitement can swiftly turn into a hazard if bath products fall into the wrong (tiny) hands.

The Temptation of Colors and Shapes:
Bath products, with their vibrant colors, unique shapes, and sometimes even fun packaging, are immensely attractive to children. These bottles can easily be mistaken for toys or, worse, something edible.

Safety First Approach:
Storing these items on higher shelves or in closed cabinets ensures that they’re out of reach of children. If your bathroom doesn’t have higher storage, consider investing in wall-mounted units or over-the-door organizers.

Stay Prepared:
Despite all precautions, accidents can happen. Keep emergency numbers handy, be aware of the nearest medical facilities, and know the basic first-aid steps for ingestion or eye contact with bath products.

By implementing these bath safety tips, you can ensure that the time spent in the tub is filled with joy and free from risks. Remember, vigilance and preparation are the pillars of keeping your little ones safe during bath time.

Happy splashing!

When we send our children to school or summer camp, we rest assured that they will be kept safe from potential harm. After all, our educational institutions diligently teach our little ones about fire safety, regularly conduct lockdown drills, and have protocols for various emergencies. But there’s a glaring gap in this protective shield: water safety, which remains the number one killer of children ages 1-4.

Our latest Water Safety Champion, Kori Delapeña, is a fierce advocate for water safety education in childcare facilities. After tragedy struck her home, rather than being consumed by grief, she channeled her pain into purpose, embarking on a mission to ensure no other parent would have to endure such a loss.

While many safety measures have been embedded into our schooling systems, the silence around water safety is deafening. But with a Water Safety Champion of the month like Kori leading the charge, there’s hope that this oversight will soon be a thing of the past.

A Moment That Defined A Lifetime

Kori’s world was shattered when her six-year-old daughter, Cati,  tragically drowned under the care of a summer camp. Cati had been born with Down syndrome, and so, her parents took many precautions, including those around water. 

Aware of the challenges posed by their daughter’s diagnosis, they prioritized physical and occupational therapies needed for daily functions over swimming. Kori acknowledged that while they maintained general water safety norms, such as ensuring life jackets at the beach or pools, the intricacies of water safety were something they were largely unaware of. Kori lamented that vital water safety information was conspicuously absent from pediatricians and daycare providers, stating, “I wish somebody would have put fear in me.”

With Cati’s unique needs in mind, Kori extensively researched summer camps to ensure her daughter’s safety. After finding High Hopes camp, which had high marking reviews, she communicated Cati’s challenges and was reassured about her safety at the pool. The camp’s reassurances, however, proved hollow, and tragedy struck.

Kori’s story highlights a gap in our system. It begs for more substantial water safety measures for children attending pool activities under the care of a licensed childcare organization such as camps or schools. She also recommends parents always conduct thorough checks of any institution’s licensing and history through the state’s licensing websites as a proactive measure for protecting their child’s wellbeing.

Live Like Cati

In the face of unimaginable loss, Kori and her husband, John, founded Live Like Cati. Armed with grief and passion, the two set out to ensure that no parent in the state of Texas ever suffers loss as they did.

Live Like Cati has spearheaded efforts to teach water safety across Texas summer camps, provide life jackets for free, and train camp staff comprehensively. A whopping 1800 hours of training and over 1600 life jackets delivered attests to their dedication and desire to see safety at the forefront.

Educate, Advocate, Legislate

With a glaring void in water safety training within childcare facilities, Kori was propelled into the legislative arena, realizing the weight of her mission after a Child Protective Services (CPS) investigator named Angel advised her on this course. She discovered that drowning is the number one cause of death for children under 5 in the nation, and yet there was absolutely no training or language about drowning prevention in the child administration code. She found this alarming as childcare ratios are high, and when it involves water activities, the risk factor heightens. 

They’ve collaborated with the likes of Colin’s Hope and the Health and Human Services Department, and come September 1st, Texas will see the introduction of HB59– Cati’s Law. The law mandates childcare organizations to verify swimming capabilities and ensure non-swimmers wear USCG life jackets before entering the gates of a pool.

“It wasn’t just about Cati. It was about every child and parent,” 

Kori reflects, underscoring her drive to protect all children. Through legislative efforts, Kori hopes to establish systems that will incentivize childcare providers to prioritize water safety. Research supports her approach, showing that financial penalties or legal consequences can drive behavioral change.

Thank You For Making A Difference In Water Safety!

Kori’s journey from grieving mother to Water Safety Champion is a testament to her resilience and determination. Partnering with many drowning prevention organizations and getting the backing of Texas legislators, she’s been able to bring about tangible changes that will protect children and ease the minds of parents and caregivers. 

Her advocacy serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of water safety education and the critical role each one of us plays in preventing such tragedies through legislation.

Thank you for being a Water Safety Champion!

If you are making a difference in water safety and drowning prevention or know someone who has, we want to hear your story. 

Please take a moment to share the story on our website for a chance to be nationally recognized as a Water Safety Champion.

How to Introduce a Water Safety Curriculum to Your School Board

Water safety curriculum and education are crucial in safeguarding children from water-related accidents. Tragic statistics highlight the need for comprehensive water safety programs in schools. Typically, schools have yearly visits from police officers and firefighters to emphasize safety rules surrounding fire, crossing the street, stranger danger, active shooters, etc. Our goal is to guide schools in including water safety in their yearly safety programs and provide the resources needed to impact the decision-makers to consider its importance, too. 

With zero drownings as our goal, we’ve created a Teacher Water Safety Toolkit to equip educators and schools with tools and resources that are not only fun and engaging but impactful in their delivery of the message of drowning prevention and water safety. 

Your local school board can be assured that each piece of our Water Safety Curriculum is backed by data and supported by experts in the field of water safety and education.

Forming a Water Safety Task Force/Coalition

A Water Safety Task Force or Coalition is a pivotal step in implementing a school-wide water safety curriculum. The task force ensures a well-rounded approach to water safety education by involving school staff, parents, and community members. Each stakeholder group can contribute unique perspectives and expertise, fostering a collective effort towards creating a safer environment for students, ensuring that the curriculum is based on evidence-based practices and industry standards, and enhancing its overall effectiveness.

Encouraging community partnerships is a powerful way to strengthen water safety initiatives. By engaging with local organizations, such as community centers, swim programs, and nonprofit water safety organizations, schools can access additional resources, funding opportunities, and outreach support. These partnerships create a network of support that extends beyond the school, reinforcing the importance of water safety throughout the community.

Highlighting the Need for Water Safety Curriculum

Learning to swim and acquiring basic water survival skills are vital for every child. Drowning prevention strategies can save lives, and schools can play a significant role in instilling these skills. Integrating water safety into the school curriculum can equip students with the knowledge and skills to stay safe in and around water, ultimately preventing tragic accidents and drowning incidents.

Not only that, a water safety curriculum aligns with the core values of our educational system. It promotes students’ physical well-being and instills a sense of responsibility, care, and community engagement. By fostering a culture of safety and preparedness, we nurture responsible and confident young individuals who can thrive inside and outside the classroom.

Schools and school districts can utilize our Teacher Water Safety Toolkit to host water safety awareness weeks or workshops, further emphasizing its importance and ensuring that every student, regardless of their classroom or grade, gets the crucial information they need.

Presenting the Water Safety Curriculum Proposal to the School Board

When presenting the water safety curriculum proposal to the school board, it is crucial to highlight how the curriculum aligns with the overall goals and objectives of the school district. Emphasizing this alignment will demonstrate that the water safety program is not just an isolated initiative but an integral part of the district’s broader vision for student well-being.

Make a note for your board that overcoming budgetary constraints and resource limitations may require creative solutions. However, investing in water safety education promises long-term benefits for students’ safety. Establish a straightforward curriculum rollout and evaluation timeline and train facilitators to deliver water safety lessons effectively, even outside the water. Presenting a completed stack of content, cost, impact, and a rollout timeline will help combat any objections or concerns that may be had. 

The benefit of our Teacher Water Safety Toolkit is that it is a turnkey reusable resource that any educator can implement without the water. The toolkit includes engaging lessons, interactive activities, book recommendations, parent handouts, and an advocacy letter for educators to sign and present to their administrators or school board for pre-approval as well. 

Advocating for a water safety curriculum in schools can be an intimidating task. By approaching it with urgency and passion, you convey the critical importance of this initiative. Above all, you must express an unwavering commitment to seeing it through. Drowning is the leading cause of accidental death in children ages 1-4 and the second leading cause of death in children ages 1-14. You can change these numbers by showing the school board and your administration that you are willing to put in the necessary time and effort to make water safety education a reality in your schools and communities!

While back to school means that summer is coming to an end, you can still have a great time at your local aquatics facility! A fun back to school event can bring your community together. Keeping in mind how to keep everyone safe, you can check on the latest information on water safety before you start your planning. We have 5 tips for you to have a fun and safer time at your aquatics facility. 

1. Plan themed activities

Having a theme can keep a cohesive theme throughout your event. You have a back to school theme already, and now it is time to add some activities. Pick activities for varying levels of engagement and abilities. Having this variety allows everyone to be able to participate. Back to school can even your theme!

Ideas like back to school bingo with pictures of items instead of numbers is great for most families. You can also do a scavenger hunt for various school supplies if space and the facility allows. 

Activities can include safety aspects too. You can plan activities that can teach adults and caregivers CPR. This is important for parents and caregivers to know. There are a lot of different songs that they can practice CPR to. Baby shark and Dancing Queen by ABBA are two popular options! Learning about emergency preparedness for a drowning event is good information for all to know. 

2. Incorporate Water Safety initiatives into your event

Water safety is always important even when there are Lifeguards. We have 5 layers of protection to help keep you and your guests safer. You can always bring those layers into your event. You can incorporate the supervision piece by ensuring you have at least one dedicated water watcher at all times during the event. Having a water watcher is important even if there are Lifeguards. 

Water safety also includes learning how to swim. Check if the facility offers swimming lessons year-around. It is always a good time of the year to practice your swimming skills – for children and adults!

3. Offer school supply/school related prizes

Back to school means a restalk of those school supplies. Offering prizes for some games can give a higher incentive to play! Potential prizes could include items like new binders, notepads, pens or pencils. They could also be bigger items such as a backpack, lunch box, or even a bike helmet. Whether small or large, you can count on participation for prizes! 

Not everyone will want to participate, so you can even host a silent auction during your event. This will help keep people entertained during your whole event. Some of these items can be for children or adults. This allows you to vary your options greatly. 

4. Promote Family Friendly activities

Family friendly activities can bring in the whole family to enjoy the fun! The facility may have a basketball hoop you can use. They may also have a net to play water volleyball. Both of these games can be played with people of all ages and you can use different size balls for both! Water volleyball can even be played with a giant beach ball for even more fun. 

Creating activities that everyone can participate in ensures that you are keeping varying abilities in mind. You can have activities that do not involve being in the water too. Activities like minute-to-win-it games. There are so many options to incorporate into your event.  

5. Partner with local businesses to offer promotions or be vendors at your event

Bringing in local businesses near you can help support your event in a multitude of ways. They can help sponsor some prizes, or even help sponsor food and drinks. This can help engage further within your community. 

Building relationships with different local businesses can make your event even more community friendly. This also can lead to those relationships being stronger. They may want to come back and support your event again next year too! 

Using these tips can help you have a fun and safer event! Looking for more tips? Check out our pool party safety tips for summer

“CANNONBALL!” a friend says as they jump into the pool! The pool, lake, pond, or ocean can be a great place to cool down from the summer heat. If you or someone you know has not yet learned how to swim as an adult, they may be hesitant to get in. While it can feel like a leap of faith to start, you are never too old to learn how to swim!

Why it is Important

While swimming is not an instinctual skill for humans, there is never a wrong time or age to learn! USA Swimming shares that when parents have no/low swimming skills, their children are unlikely to have proficient swimming skills. 

This affects 64% of African American children, 45% of Hispanic/Latinx children, and 40% of Caucasian children. Learning to swim as an adult will show your children that you are never to learn a new skill! 

We all have different reasons for wanting to learn how to swim at any age. All reasons are valid, and for some, the reason may be overcoming their fear of water. We encourage you to search in your area for facilities and instructors that work with fearful adults. 

It is also important to share with your instructor your reasoning for wanting to learn. If you have some fears, we encourage you to share those too. 

How to Get Started

Where to begin, you ask? Well, you can follow a similar path when looking for a swimming program for your child. There are many groups and organizations that offer adult-only swimming lessons. 

There are often instructors that work specifically and only with adults to help you get comfortable in the water and to build up your skills. You can find NDPA resources to adapt for yourself by using our Swim Lesson Decision Chart and Checklist to help find the best type of swimming lessons to fit your needs.

Finding your Best Fit

Swimming programs often offer one on one instruction or small-group instruction. Both are valuable, and you can pick which one is best for you. Starting swimming lessons as an adult can feel like a big task, so know that you can follow some of the tips on the swim program checklist for finding your children’s swimming lessons. 

This can include items like going into the facilities and familiarizing yourself with the layout, and even asking if you can meet the instructor for the first class. Remember, there is a facility and instructor out there for you! 

NDPA Resources

Water competency is one of NDPA’s 5 Layers of Protection that help you, your family, and your community to be safer around water. By learning how to swim as an adult, you are showing your children, family, and community that you are taking water safety seriously.

The water can be a really fun place to go to, and you are taking the first steps (and splashes) to be safer and more prepared being in and around the water. 

Whether you are an adult learning how to swim because you have a vacation coming up, want to be comfortable in the water, or want to show your children that swimming is an important skill to know and learn, you can find the right swimming program for you! 

There is no age limit on learning how to swim, so grab your swimsuit and towel, and get ready to build up your swimming ability. See you in the water soon!

Every year, numerous drowning incidents occur, claiming the lives of both children and adults. However, there is a particular concern when it comes to individuals with Autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The risks associated with water safety for those with ASD are often overlooked and misunderstood, leading to tragic outcomes.

Our July Water Safety Champion is mother to a person with Autism and a passionate advocate for water safety initiatives for persons with Autism.

We are honored to celebrate our July Water Safety Champion of the Month, Stacey Hoaglund!

Finding the Courage To Be the Voice of a Movement

Stacey’s son was diagnosed with Autism at a young age. Early on, she prioritized water safety and ensured that both of her children received swim lessons. But it wasn’t until 2018, when she and her son were on a trip to Washington, that she came across a news broadcast from Florida about a child with Autism who tragically drowned. 

Stacey admits that for years she expected others in the Autism community to take the lead, but after years of silence, she realized she needed to be the voice. 

Her water safety advocacy journey started by reaching out to a friend who was a lobbyist in her state, who connected her with two women leading movements in South Florida, both who worked for the Department of Health and both who had lost children to drowning. Their lived experiences and determination ignited a sense of purpose within her.

Overcoming Challenges and Misinformation

When she first stepped into the water safety space, Stacey noted that the lack of information and awareness regarding water safety and individuals with Autism was a grave concern.

According to available data, 50 drowning incidents have been recorded in 2023, and of those, 8 individuals had been diagnosed with Autism and wandered away from home. Wandering is a significant risk for those with Autism and can lead to emergency situations, like drowning.

One of the challenges Stacey found on her journey was that pediatricians and teachers lacked information regarding water safety. Parents of children with Autism often find themselves needing guidance on preventive measures or the importance of swim lessons for their children. In some cases, they may prioritize therapies over swim lessons, particularly if their child has communication difficulties. This information gap leaves children with Autism vulnerable to water-related accidents.

Drowning Prevention Strategies and Advocacy Efforts

Autism presents unique challenges, particularly when it comes to generalizing skills. Children may learn to swim in a specific setting, but they may struggle to apply those skills in different environments. The reliance on water wings can also create a false sense of security, as individuals with Autism may mistakenly assume they can float in any body of water.

Stacey notes that many times, swim instructors are trained in teaching neuro-typical children to swim but do not have experience or understanding of children who have Autism or other developmental disabilities. Many families are hesitant to enroll their children with special needs in swim lessons due to the lack of knowledge of teaching techniques. Recognizing this barrier, efforts have been made to provide resources and training to water safety instructors to ensure they are equipped to teach individuals with Autism effectively. The Autism Society of Florida has also sought funding to support swim lessons for individuals with Autism who may not be able to afford swim lessons.

As a resource, the Autism Society of Florida, where Stacey is President, runs a program that trains parents of children with disabilities, including Autism, on how to advocate for systems change. She has also collaborated with organizations and lawmakers to raise awareness and implement effective drowning prevention strategies for parents of children with Autism. Most recently, Senator Anna Maria Rodriguez from Miami has confirmed her legislative support for the drowning prevention of children with Autism in Florida.

Making an Impact on Legislation and Community Outreach

While progress has been made in advocating for water safety, there is still room for improvement. One crucial aspect that requires attention is raising awareness.

Marketing campaigns should be more aggressive, emphasizing the importance of active supervision and vigilance when it comes to water safety. Additionally, school systems play a vital role in disseminating information on drowning prevention, and initiatives like the “Every Child a Swimmer” legislation of 2021 can contribute significantly to reducing drowning incidents.

Engaging the community is crucial to the success of any initiative. Throughout her time as an advocate, Stacey has formed relationships with various stakeholders, including schools, fire chiefs, and organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Surgeon General. These collaborations allow for policy work and the dissemination of information to the broader community. Support groups for parents and families also provide a platform for sharing experiences, concerns, and water safety resources.

More work is needed to bridge the information gap, provide accessible resources, and engage the community to ensure that water safety programs are in place for individuals with Autism. Through collective efforts, we can strive towards a world where every individual, regardless of their abilities, can safely enjoy aquatic activities and prevent tragic accidents.

Thank You For Making A Difference In Water Safety!

Water safety is a pressing issue, especially for individuals with Autism, who face unique challenges and risks. Thank you, Stacey, for the strides you’ve made in reducing drowning incidents among this vulnerable population!

Thank you for being a Water Safety Champion!

If you are making a difference in water safety and drowning prevention or know someone who has, we want to hear your story. 
Please take a moment to share the story on our website for a chance to be nationally recognized as a Water Safety Champion.