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Frank Ferry: Live from City Hall

Posted: June 1, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: June 1, 2013 2:00 a.m.
 

The leading cause of death in children under age 4 is drowning. The remarkable thing about this statistic is that we can reduce the number of occurrences, even eliminate drowning, through more awareness and education.

The Los Angeles County Fire Department, with support from sponsors, local businesses, and the city of Santa Clarita, will host the free "Children Drown without a Sound" Water Safety Expo 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, June 8, at Santa Clarita Fire Station 126, located at 26320 Citrus Street between Valencia Boulevard and Magic Mountain Parkway.

The goal of the event is to help educate families about ways to prevent drowning and its devastating consequences in a family-friendly, fun environment.

According to the Los Angeles County Fire Department, it only takes 20 seconds for a child to drown.

Drowning incidents continue to happen in the Santa Clarita Valley each year and are particularly common among children five years or younger because they don’t understand the danger of falling into water and typically do not splash, cry or call for help.

Death is the most extreme consequence associated with drowning, but near-drowning can cause permanent impairment or brain damage.

Local firefighters and paramedics are trained to handle many emergency situations, but I can assure you that nothing can prepare them for a drowning or near-drowning scene where they must care for a child with life-threatening injuries and comfort grieving parents, grandparents, and siblings.

Many drownings in Santa Clarita occur among stable, loving, attentive families while the entire family is poolside and adults are present.

But because children do not typically make noise when in distress, it only takes seconds before they are at the bottom of the pool.

That’s why the Los Angeles County Fire Department is working to educate residents that "children drown without a sound."

The Water Safety Expo is ideal for anyone in Santa Clarita who watches, plays with, or is responsible for children. Drowning incidents are synonymous with pools and summertime, but the reality is children can drown in shallow play pools, bathtubs or even buckets any time of year.

Our local firefighters have developed a kid-friendly water safety presentation they’ve shared with local kindergarten classes to educate this target audience about water safety.

The importance of water safety will be underscored at the event as emergency room physicians share stories about treating drowning victims.

The expo will also include a simulated poolside rescue of a young victim and the opportunity to hear real 911 drowning calls.

While the expo is designed to provide information about the consequences of drowning and techniques to prevent it, children and families will have fun with engaging and interactive activities.

Last year more than 1,500 residents joined local firefighters and lifeguards to enjoy water balloon tosses, Radio Disney performances, interaction with Stewie the Duck (who helps kids learn to swim for safety), and food trucks, making the event educational and fun.

This year’s event will include similar offerings as well as opportunities to learn about products that can help prevent drowning incidents and make home pools safer.

The American Heart Association will be on site to register residents for CPR classes, and attendees will enjoy a variety of giveaways.

Education can make a difference, and I hope you’ll join our local firefighters, sponsors and event partners as we enjoy a fun afternoon for an important cause.

Let’s make it a safe summer in Santa Clarita; I’ll see you on June 8 at Fire Station 126.

Frank Ferry is a member of the Santa Clarita City Council and can be reached at fferry@santa-clarita.com.

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