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SWIM Safety - July 2013

Here it is July 2013, wow! Throughout Broward’s neighborhoods, whether single family, multi-family, townhouse, or condo, inland or coastal, one can hear splash after splash as children and adults enjoy swimming in pools, lakes, waterways, and the ocean. However, did you know drowning is the number-one killer of children under the age of four (4) throughout the United States?

Recognizing that alarming statistic and the nearly unlimited natural and artificial water venues throughout Broward County, the County Commission in 1999 established SWIM Central. SWIM Central has aimed to reduce the number of drowning incidents in Broward by providing up to ten (10) in-water safety instruction and education lessons per year to children who are enrolled in public schools, day-care centers, and preschools countywide.

SWIM Central just achieved a significant programming milestone – 2.5 million water safety and education lessons have been provided to over 400,000 Broward children (and some adults). This spectacular achievement could not have been accomplished without the Commission’s collaborative SWIM Central funding partners: The Children’s Services Council of Broward County, the School Board, and The S.W.I.M.S Foundation. Collectively, these four entities appropriate nearly $1.3 million for SWIM Central programming, including transportation, not to mention hundreds of thousands of dollars of in-kind staffing and pool facilities use.

However, SWIM Central has evolved into more than schoolchildren water-safety instruction and education. With a new program mascot, Sandy Pelican, SWIM Central has become more active  promoting drowning prevention at community events by providing on-site water safety presentations including CPR, first-aid, and swimming instruction. This expands the program’s reach beyond the 30,000 Broward children, Pre-K to age 13, who annually receive in-water instruction.

Accordingly, though we have a nationally recognized model program, the County Commission and our SWIM Central partners continue to devise programming improvements to provide children and parents/adults with the life-saving skills needed to prevent tragedy. For additional information please contact SWIM Central direct at 954-357-7946.

Also, remember South Florida’s rainy season is here. As the humidity increases it makes a perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes. The best protection from mosquito-transmitted diseases is avoiding exposure to mosquito bites. Experts suggest residents keep doors and windows closed and apply insect repellent containing DEET sparingly to clothing and skin.

Let me also take this opportunity to wish all of you a Happy Fourth of July and offer a reminder to fly the Stars and Stripes in honor of those who have fallen, those who have served, and those who now serve, to keep us free. As always if you have a question or concern you would like to discuss with me, please contact my office at 954-357-7006 or e-mail me at sgunzburger@broward.org