By Mayor Dave Harrington
“Summertime and the livin’ is easy,” so goes the song by Ella Fitzgerald. But summer is anything but easy when you have or go to a pool, the beach or are just near any water.
I had a barbecue one summer and a mom and dad began arguing over whose turn it was to watch their son when I watched as the boy suddenly slipped into the pool without a splash. I told them I did not care whose turn it was because they needed to get their child out of the pool! We got lucky. Drowning does not care about age, wealth or level of education and can strike in a split second in an incredibly small amount of water. The City of Aliso Viejo takes drowning prevention seriously and wants you to do the same.
Aliso Viejo has partnered with Stop Drowning Now and has been named the first “No-Drown” town. In this spirit, we continue to provide essential drowning prevention outreach and education year-round. Our City is implementing the organization’s “Safer 3” concept and embracing the Orange County Fire Authority’s water safety campaign.
The Stop Drowning Now Safer 3 concept is based on recognizing risks associated with water-related activities; implementing strategies to reduce and manage those risks; and responsibly maintaining those strategies.
Anytime you are in, on or around the water, there is a risk. In fact, drowning is the leading cause of accidental injury and death in children under the age of ﬁve and the second leading cause of death in kids under the age of 14. Children can drown in as little as 20 seconds and without any noise. Drowning incidents don’t just happen with children. Last year alone, of the 95 drowning incidents in Orange County, 40 were fatalities; 28 of which were people over the age of 35.
This factor alone points to the need for more water safety education and action by our family, friends and neighbors to prevent these tragedies. Here are some tips to keep in mind from OCFA and Stop Drowning Now:
• Adults and children should always swim with a buddy, regardless of the ability of the swimmer. Swimming alone is more dangerous than people realize.
• Someone should actively supervise even those who are competent swimmers.
• Put barriers between water and especially children, like pool fencing and secured pool covers.
• Instruct parents, babysitters and caregivers about potential pool hazards and the need for constant supervision of children. If a child is missing or unaccounted for, always check the pool or spa first.
• Don’t use flotation devices as a substitute for supervision. Only U.S. Coast Guard-approved lifejackets are designed and tested for safety. “Water wings” or “floaties,” inflatable water rings and other pool toys are NOT safety devices.
• Always be aware of your child’s location. Drownings happen everywhere including bathtubs, mop buckets, toilets, pools, spas, ponds and even standing water. Children can drown in as little as two inches of water.
• Designate a “water watcher” to watch the water without engaging in social activities or distractions.
• Sign your kids up for swim lessons, which are available for adults too, through our Aquatic Center at 29 Santa Barbara Drive.
• Learn CPR, first aid and rescue techniques. A small amount of education can go a long way in saving a life. You can sign up for available CPR classes at cityofalisoviejo.com. Additional opportunities are available through Premier Aquatics and the American Red Cross.
Enjoy your summer, live easy and remember drowning is a preventable tragedy that can happen to anyone at any time. We must be vigilant any time we are near water.