Water Safety Symposium

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Learn to Keep Everyone Safe

The 2019 Southwest Florida Water Safety Symposium is at the Fort Myers Beach Community Pool and Bay Oaks Recreational Center on Thursday, November 7. Registration is from 8 to 9 a.m. with the Forum including a hands-on CPR Training Session, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Although the Symposium is free, including complimentary breakfast and lunch, organizers need a count for CPR mannequins and food, so they request advance registration by Tuesday, November 5, at the Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce at 239-454-7500 or www.fortmyersbeach.org. The Water Safety Symposium begins at the FMB Community Pool at 2600 Oak Street.

Crew of Lee County EMS helicopter landed on Bay Oaks baseball field. Photos by Olivia Means Photography.

“Anybody who owns or operates a swimming pool or water facility should attend,” emphasized Sally Kreuscher, Coordinator of Safe Kids Southwest Florida, one of the Symposium cosponsors. “If your home has a pool or you rent a place with one; if you are a boater or a rental company; if your business has a pool, like a hotel or condominium association; if you are a parent or grandparent, you should come, as in Southwest Florida, water is all around us, so you need the best possible precautions to ensure that those you take care of are safe on your water.”

Speakers will be from the Consumer Product Safety Commission, Florida Department of Health, Marine United Task Force, and “Kacen’s Cause.” Sally explained that “Kacen’s Cause” “is a family who had a child pass away from a drowning, and they are working with the Florida Legislature to enact law to provide safer conditions. Many other states already have this legislation, so we are working with them to bring their message to Florida. Following these presentations will be round-robin meetings with the various speakers, as well as other organizations like the American Red Cross, US Coast Guard, Fort Myers Beach Fire Department, Safe Kids Southwest Florida, and Department of Health Lee County, among others, to interact on a personal level.”

Beach Pool lifeguards demonstrate a rescue.

In addition to the speakers and round-robin meetings, the Symposium includes two rescue demonstrations: a scenario by the Fort Myers Beach Community Pool Lifeguard Staff to begin the day, and a hands-on CPR training session at the conclusion. A highlight is the landing of a Life Flight helicopter on the Bay Oaks Recreational Center baseball field, unless a real-life emergency prevents its participation. The Symposium’s complementary meals are a light breakfast from Tuckaway Café, with Golisano’s Children’s Hospital sponsoring lunch.

Water Safety Symposium cosponsors include the American Red Cross, Consumer Product Safety Commission, Florida Department of Health Lee County, FMB Fire Department, Greater FMB Chamber of Commerce, LeeHealth, Kacen’s Cause, Safe & Healthy Children’s Coalition, Safe Kids Southwest Florida, Swim Doctors, Swimtastic Swim School, Town of FMB, United States Power Squadrons, US Coast Guard Auxiliary, and WaterSmartFlorida.

ABC’s of Water Safety

Sally sadly noted that four children recently drowned in Southwest Florida in one week. “That is one of the few unfortunate aspects of living in our part of the world; where there are canals, beaches, boats, swimming pools and water everywhere! Our concern, however, is not just with the kids but adults, as there are still so many grown-ups who don’t know how to swim. The purpose of the Water Safety Symposium is to make sure everyone is as protected as humanly possible, with multiple layers of safety, like barriers, fences and a door alarm, to simultaneously slow down kids while providing as much reaction time to a water emergency as we can, and that is why we advocate providing numerous layers of protection.”

She cautioned that “drownings are not like you see in the movies or television, where you hear a loud splash or see the person’s arms waving about; the real story is that drowning victims tend to slip quietly under the water, where they can sadly still see you but you cannot see them to help. When you have people and especially children in your water, assign a ‘Water Watcher,’ with that being their only responsibility, and never allow kids to swim alone. Employ the ‘ABC’s of Water Safety’: Stay Active; have multiple layers of Barriers, and know how to perform CPR!”