Kids love cooling off in the water. It’s the time of the year when most of us are enjoying time on a boat or at the pool or beach. Injuries aren’t the first thing on our minds. Yet, according to The Burden of Injury Report 2011 in Wisconsin, drowning is the leading cause of injury deaths for children ages 1-4 years and the third cause of injury death for children ages 5-9. Oneida County has had nine recorded deaths due to drowning between 2007 and 2010.
It takes a community to keep our children safe. Oneida County Public Health formed a Drowning Prevention Task Force to help keep children safe and secure. Members include the YMCA of the Northwoods Aquatic Department, Wisconsin DNR Safety Warden, Rhinelander School District, Safe Kids Organization, Oneida County Forestry and Parks and the City of Rhinelander Parks.
One of our objectives is to increase safe water education for school age children. One way we are addressing this issue is promoting local youth water safety. The Northwoods YMCA receives monies from the United Way to teach students a water safety program called Y SPLASH. Y SPLASH which stands for Swim, Play, and Learn Aquatic Safety Habits is a hands-on training designed to help both swimmers and non-swimmers stay safe and healthy in and around the water. Schools were responsible for the transportation cost. The Task Force helped secure financial support from Co-Vantage Credit Union, Park City Credit Union and Ministry Health Care Ministry to get students from school to the YMCA for these free classes.
In addition to increasing student water safety education the Oneida County Drowning Prevention Task Force is working with the DNR to increase the use of life jackets by promoting free loner life jacket stations at busy boat landings throughout Oneida County.
May is National Water Safety Month, and the Task Force will continue to get the word out about the importance of contant adult supervision for children in the water using the “Water Watcher” program and increasing the skills of teens to assess their own risk to decreases peer presser when it comes to water safety with presentations at the middle school.
For more information, call Jill Blake at the Oneida County Public Health Department at (715) 369-6110, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.