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South L.A. Swim Lesson Grads Celebrate at Red Cross Pool Party

2014-08-18 - Los Angeles - South L.A. Swim Lesson Grads Celebrate at Red Cross Pool Party
Families need to make sure that they all have have the knowledge and skills to be safe in and around the water.

Nothing says summer like swimming and ice cream, and the American Red Cross L.A. Region provided both at a pool party Aug. 7 at the Ted Watkins Memorial Park Pool in South L.A. for 125 Red Cross Learn-to-Swim grads.

The Red Cross Los Angeles Region, in partnership with the L.A. Parks and Recreation Department South Agency, held the celebration for program participants from six pools in the South Los Angeles area: Watkins, Owens, Roosevelt, Alondra, Lennox and Cerritos.

The participants, ages 6-14, frolicked in the pool, received ice cream from volunteers at a Red Cross Emergency Response Vehicle and picked up Red Cross preparedness coloring books.

The event was held as part of a nationwide campaign marking the 100th anniversary of Red Cross swimming safety education. Focusing its efforts on Drowning Prevention, the Red Cross is planning to teach a total of 50,000 more people in 50 selected cities across 19 states how to swim, and is urging people across the country to make sure that they and their families can swim. In the months and years ahead, the American Red Cross Los Angeles Region will be working with local pools and other community partners to get more people to learn to swim well and reduce the risk of drowning.

“Though summer may be drawing to a close, people in Los Angeles are still gearing up for trips to the pool, beach, rivers and lakes,” said Jarrett Barrios, CEO of the American Red Cross in Los Angeles. “Families need to make sure that both adults and children have the knowledge and skills they need to be safe in and around the water and to make water safety a priority.”

The new Red Cross drowning prevention campaign comes at a time when a New National Survey shows that people believe they are better swimmers than they actually are. The survey, conducted for the Red Cross, found that while 80 percent of Americans said they could swim, only 56 percent of the self-described swimmers can perform all five of the Basic Skills that could save their life in the water.

These critical water safety skills, also known as “water competency,” are the ability to: Step or jump into the water over your head; Return to the surface and float or tread water for one minute; Turn around in a full circle and find an exit; Swim 25 yards to the exit; and Exit from the water. If in a pool, be able to exit without using the ladder.

Every day, an average of 10 people die in the U.S. from unintentional drowning – with 20 percent of them children 14 or younger, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury death for children and sixth for people of all ages. In addition, for every child who dies from drowning, another five receive emergency department care for nonfatal submersion injuries.

The survey found that nearly half of Americans (46 percent) report that they have had an experience in the water where they were afraid they might drown. In addition, one in five (19 percent) said they knew someone who had drowned, and 20 percent knew someone who nearly drowned.

“Parents and caregivers, in addition to learning how to swim, should also know critical water safety rules and know how to respond to a water emergency,” said Barrios. He pointed out that the Red Cross also has a free Swim App that offers wonderful tips and videos on water safety.

Photographs by: Bianca Pino (children eating ice cream) and Greg White (children in the pool).