Summer represents a time for more leisure, filled with activities that often involve water. But the good times end when water play ends in tragedy. Drowning is the third leading cause of accidental deaths for people of all ages worldwide. And Florida has the dubious distinction of leading the nation in drowning deaths among children under age 5. The good news is that the trend is reversible, and child welfare organizations are working diligently to promote water safety. Today, hundreds of swim facilities around the world are bringing attention to the importance of drowning prevention by participating in the World's Largest Swimming Lesson. The event is designed to break the world record for the most simultaneous swimming lessons. But organizers hope another record falls: the number of drownings that could be prevented if people of all ages, but especially children, learn to swim.
The swimming event is the brainchild of water safety and training organizations. In the Tampa Bay area, registered sites include a mixture of community pools and aquatic centers. Information about the free event, which takes place at 11 a.m. today, can be found at www.worldslargestswimminglesson.com.
This weekend marks the official start of summer. But it is not too late for parents and caregivers to enroll their children in swimming lessons, many of which are being offered for free or at low cost at area pools. Adults who are unsure of themselves in the water also should take lessons, and everyone should learn to spot the signs of drowning, which is most often quiet and rarely includes the screaming and flailing about dramatized on television. Water safety campaigns, swimming lessons and careful monitoring of activities in and around water can save lives.