First Lady Sandra Deal Launches SPLASH with DPH and Georgia Child Advocates

April 13, 2015

The end of the school year is quickly approaching, and families are making plans for long, relaxing days by the pool. Before pool season in Georgia begins, First Lady Sandra Deal is promoting water safety practices with a new initiative aptly titled SPLASH.

The Georgia Children’s Cabinet, led by First Lady Deal, formed a Water Safety Subcommittee comprised of various health and community leaders to address water safety needs facing our state. Among the committee members are leaders from the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) including Lisa Dawson, director of DPH’s Injury Prevention Program, and Maurice Redmond, Public Pools Program director for DPH’s Environmental Health Section.

As an intervention to reduce water-related child deaths and injuries, the Water Safety Subcommittee created SPLASH as an all-encompassing water safety campaign.

The initiative encourages Georgians to follow six key techniques when enjoying activities at the pool or near bodies of water such as lakes and beaches:

  • Supervision – There should always be an adult present when a child is around water, and they must have their eyes on the child at all times.
  • Prevention – Fence and gates around pools are some of the many barriers that help keep children away from the water. Drain covers can prevent entrapment in pool and hot tub drains and broken or loose covers should be fixed immediately.
  • Look before you leap – Always be aware of your surroundings. Before jumping into any bodies of water, especially lakes and rivers, be careful of how deep it is. Certain spots can be deeper than they look.
  • Arms‐length (Safe rescue) –Adults should be arms‐length to children in water, especially while bathing, to ensure safe rescue. If a child is in danger, safety tools should be close by at all times such as a life hook and life float. Do not jump into the water if you cannot swim.
  • Swim Lessons – Learning how to swim with swimming lessons can prevent a lot of water-related accidents. Find classes in your community or your local Red Cross or YMCA.
  • Have a water safety plan –A family can work together to come up with their own water safety plan so everyone will know what to do in case an emergency arises.

“We are appreciative that Georgia’s Children’s Cabinet is championing drowning prevention and making it possible to strengthen long-standing public health partnerships,” said Dawson. “The internal partnership between DPH’s injury prevention and environmental health teams revisits an existing connection where environmental health helped spark injury prevention public health efforts 20 years ago. Through policy implementation, environmental change and education, both public health areas help foster safer and healthier environments for Georgia’s children.”

While pool activities are a favorite pastime and great exercise alternative for Georgia families, unintentional drowning is the fifth leading cause of unintentional injury death in the United States, as indicated in research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

According to CDC data, the demographic most at risk for drowning are children age 1 – 4. Drowning is the second-leading cause of child deaths, preceded only by motor vehicle crashes, and accounts for 30 percent of all child deaths caused by an unintentional injury.

Georgia’s Child Fatality Review Panel’s 2013 Annual Report also shows there were 129 child drowning deaths from 2009 to 2012, with an average of 32 per year in Georgia. Furthermore, drowning constituted 15 percent of unintentional injury-related deaths among the state’s child population.

Safety should always be of paramount importance when children are playing at pools or open bodies of water. By following the simple recommendations outlined by the SPLASH campaign, Georgia families can focus on making great memories while engaging in water activities and do their part in reducing the state’s instances of water-related injuries and deaths among children.

Families can keep up with the SPLASH initiative by viewing its Facebook and Twitter pages. You can also visit DPH online to learn more about the agency’s Injury Prevention Program and Environmental Health Section’s pool initiatives.

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