Local officials gather to educate public about water safety.
City officials took the plunge today and made pool safety their number one priority. With the deaths of two children and the near-drowning of another two in the last eight weeks, the county and city have joined forces to educate the public about the basics of water safety, available classes, supervision and life-saving devices.
Fire and sheriff’s officials, lifeguards from Castaic, Red Cross staff, 911 operators and the Fennesy family gathered Tuesday morning at the Santa Clarita Aquatics Center to share their message with the media.
The Fennesy’s youngest child, Brianna, is one of the lucky ones. Her mother, Robyn, found her at the bottom of the pool and was able to jump in and get her while her 8-year old son Danny called 911. After firefighters and deputies rushed her to the hospital, Brianna spent three days unconscious in the ICU, but emerged as a normal, healthy toddler.
“She wanted to run into the pool when we got here,” said her father, Dan, as he held the squirming youngster.
A three-year old girl drowned in the community pool at Tesoro del Valle on May 17 while in the company of her parents and several neighbors. On June 14, a 1-year old boy was found beneath the surface of a backyard pool on Shakespeare Drive. Although first responders administered CPR and he was treated at both Henry Mayo Newhall and Childrens Hospital, he succumbed due to complications on June 15.
Fire Chief Bill Niccum called drowning the “silent killer” of children.
“Children do not scream, they do not splash, they sink silently,” he warned. “Our goal here is to educate the public about safety and what they can do.
“Learn CPR, designate an adult to watch children when they’re in the water, never leave the pool area when children are in the water,” he continued. “Use pool alarms and pool covers, but don’t depend solely on them to protect your family. Be watchful of other’s children. We all share responsibility for children’s water safety.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control, drowning is the number one cause of death in children under age 5 and more than 50 percent of drownings happen in residential swimming pools.
“Swimming is an important life skill,” said Santa Clarita Mayor Bob Kellar. “Accessibility to city pools, safety and affordable swim lessons have always been the priority of the City Council. More than 4,000 individuals under the age of 10 take recreational swim lessons in city pools and it’s estimated that more than 40,000 individuals have received their swim lessons from the city.
Dave Bilar, the 911 operator who took the call from the Fennesy home, said that besides staying calm and letting the operator help you, knowing the address of where you are when you call is critical.
“We get a lot of cell phone calls now. If you’re at a party, know the address. Teach your children their address and tell them they may have to say it more than once to someone on the phone,” he said.