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No fooling on April Pools Day


Peter Banks has trained Olympic champions and taught countless others to swim at the Brandon Sports & Aquatic Center, but one statistic that still bothers him is the number of infant pool deaths.

Drowning claims the lives of nearly 4,000 people every year, according to the National Safety Council. Although all age groups are represented, children 4 and younger have the highest death rate due to drowning. Most drownings and near-drownings happen when a child falls into a pool or is left alone in the bathtub.

One thing Banks is doing to help is promoting drowning awareness, particularly as the summer swimming season quickly approaches. That's the idea behind Saturday's April Pools Day at the aquatic center, 405 Beverly Blvd., which runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

It's the event's second year, but this time it's being done in conjunction with the Hillsborough County Children's Board. The event will emphasize safety steps that parents can take, such as installing pool fences and taking other precautions.

"Drowning is one the biggest causes of children's mortality, especially during the summer," said Banks, the longtime head swimming coach at the aquatic center. "We offered to host the event this year, working with the Children's Board, to bring attention to the problem of drownings.

Fire Rescue personnel and others in the community who deal with drowning prevention will be on hand for demonstrations and discussions. There also will be swimming and scuba exhibitions and other activities.

The program is free, and food, prizes for kids and door prizes will be offered.

Banks hopes 2004 Olympic silver medalist Maritza Correia, who trained at the center, also will be on hand. While the program runs four hours, Banks said most of the pool demonstrations will be in the first 90 minutes when the largest crowds are expected.

.fast facts

Water safety tips

• Never leave a child alone near water, whether it's the beach, a pool or a bathtub. If you must leave, take the child with you.

• Kids don't drown only in pools. Bathtubs, buckets, toilets and hot tubs present drowning dangers as well.

• Enroll children over age 3 in swimming lessons taught by qualified instructors. But keep in mind lessons don't "drownproof" your child.

• Always follow posted safety precautions when visiting water parks.

• If you're visiting a public pool, keep an eye on your kids. Lifeguards aren't babysitters.

• Teach your children these four key swimming rules: Always swim with a buddy. Don't dive into unknown bodies of water. Don't push or jump on others while in the water. Be prepared for an emergency.

• Don't underestimate the power of water. Even rivers and lakes can have an undertow.

• Always have a first-aid kit and emergency phone contacts handy. Parents should be trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

Source: The National Safety Council

No fooling on April Pools Day 04/03/08 [Last modified: Thursday, May 28, 2009 10:15am]
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