The 3rd Annual Pine Island Pool Heath and Safety Fair will be held at the island pool this weekend to share safety information with the community.
"In the state of Florida, we lose the equivalent of three classrooms of preschoolers to drowning each year," Michelle King, director of the Child Advocacy Program at the Children's Hospital, said in a prepared statement. "We must keep our children safe with layers of protection and constant adult supervision when they are in or near water."
According to the Florida Department of Health, there were 64 drownings for children 1-4 years old in 2011 and five drownings for 5-9 year olds in the state of Florida.
Although drowning is the leading cause of death for children under the age of 5 in the state of Florida, it is 100 percent preventable.
Kohl's Kids Safety Program Coordinator Lina Quintana said she does a lot of different community events throughout the year to raise awareness on water safety and drowning prevention. Since the grant year started in August, they have done more than 20 events in the community so far.
Pine Island Pool Aquatic Supervisor Sandy Reynolds said the annual event is the big push to get kids signed up for swimming lessons, which will kick off on June 1 and carry on through October for non-swimmers.
If You Go:
What: 3rd Annual Pine Island Pool Health and Safety Fair
When: Saturday, April 13 from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m.
Where: Pine Island Pool, 5675 Sesame Drive
"I don't turn any kids away," Reynolds said, adding that she adds additional classes if they fill up.
She said this time of the year, the weather becomes warmer and the kids are playing outside near the water and pool, which is why it is so important to hold the event. Reynolds said they are trying to get everyone geared up for the summer by teaching the youngsters how to swim, while providing parents with the information they need to keep their kids safe.
"Parents need to be watching their children and kids need to learn how to swim," she said. "So they know how to at least crawl and get out."
Their motto, "every child a swimmer," is accomplished through the help of local organizations like the Bobby Holloway Memorial Fund and the Matlacha Mariners. Reynolds said scholarships are provided to the families who are in need of assistance to pay for swimming lessons for their non-swimmer son or daughter.
Quintana said they will have brochures for parents that explain the different kinds of barriers parents can put in place when there is a pool around.
"Nothing replaces the parents' eyes or the presence of the parents," she said. "You still need that direct supervision."
The educational material will be provided in both Spanish and English.
There are a few things parents can do to keep their children safe around the pool. First of all, a parent or guardian should never leave a child unattended in a pool or a spa; always watch the child when near the water; keep children away from pool drains, pipes and other openings to avoid entrapment; have a telephone close by when there is someone in the pool or spa and teach children basic water safety tips.
"Supervision is the number one thing, drowning is preventable 100 percent," Quintana said. "It only takes a second with your eyes not on the child for a tragedy to occur."
The Pine Island Fire Department, Red Cross and the Beacon of H.O.P.E. will also have information available for those who attend the event.
Reynolds said the event will include free admission to swim that day, as well as free hot dogs and soda. She said they will also have free give away for those who attend.
"It's a good community event," Reynolds said.