Children drown without a sound. In the summer of 2010, a young girl sank soundlessly to the bottom of a community pool in Valencia as children played around her and adults mingled at poolside, each probably thinking the others were watching the children.
Until one slipped away.
Children in trouble in a pool don’t often splash around and yell. They may panic and forget everything they’ve ever learned in swim class.
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The Los Angeles County Fire Department is presenting an important opportunity to help families avoid tragedies like these. On Saturday, August 27, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Fire Station 126 on Citrus Drive will hosts a free Pool Safety Expo / Family Fun Day.
It’s going to be an exciting event, with Radio Disney entertaining and helping kids learn about pool safety. Emergency room doctors from Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital will present safety tips and firefighters and paramedics – the people who respond when drownings occur – will provide critical life-saving information.
There will be water games, free giveaways, food, raffle items and much more. Families will have the chance to sign up for CPR classes and swim lessons.
Perhaps the biggest celebrity on hand will be a large yellow duck wearing a life vest – Stewie the Duck, who teaches children about water safety.
Part of the festivities will be a presentation by Stewie the Duck Learns To Swim, a program brought to the area by Fire Fighter Paramedic Scott Robinson of Fire Station 124A, who, working with Community Services Representative Stephanie English, brought Stewie message of safety and awareness to several area schools.
So far, they’ve reached more than a thousand elementary-aged youngsters and hope to reach thousands more. Stewie sings songs with the children about always wearing a life vest and never getting into the water without an adult nearby.
The Stewie program came about in 1990 after parents Kim and Stew Leonard lost their 21-month-old son, Stew Leonard III, in a drowning accident. They pledged to do everything they coule to prevent this tragedy from striking other families. Statistics show that drowning is the leading cause of accidental death in children under five.
Stewie the Duck programs are administered by the Stew Leonard III Water Safety Foundation, which has raised more than $1 million towards outreach and education about water safety. The foundation provides swim lesson scholarship, lifeguard training and has published two children’s books on water safety: “Stewie the Duck Learns to Swim” and “Swimming Lessons with Stewie the Duck.” For more information on Stewie, visit his web(foot) site at www.stewietheduck.com.
To read a story about Stewie’s Santa Clarita Aquatics Center debut, click here.
Station 126 is located at 26320 Citrus Street in Valencia, right across the street from the Westfield Valencia Town Center. Additional sponsors of the event include Drowning Is Preventable, the Swim for Life Foundation, the National Drowning Prevention Alliance and the City of Santa Clarita.