San Diego

Ahead of summer, San Diego promotes safety with drowning awareness month

Drowning is the single leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 4 and the second-leading cause of death for those under 14


As summer season approaches and so does its increased rates of drowning, San Diego city leaders Friday declared May as Prevent Drowning and Water Safety Month.

Mayor Todd Gloria and Council President Sean Elo-Rivera presented a proclamation with the Prevent Drowning Foundation of San Diego to "send the message that everyone can make a difference in drowning prevention."

"Drowning Prevention and Water Safety Month shows our commitment to ensuring San Diegans, especially our children, know how to stay safe around water," Gloria said. "By increasing awareness and access to swim education, we're taking essential steps to prevent tragedies and empower our community."

Members of the community gathered at the City Heights Swim Complex for the presentation, which included remarks by community and aquatics leaders, information booths and a lifejacket demonstration by children from Chollas Meade Elementary School.

Drowning is the single leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 4 and the second-leading cause of death for those under 14.

"There is nothing more important than the safety of our young people," Elo-Rivera said. "Swim classes and water safety education coupled with access to public swimming pools are critical to prevent drowning.

"With so much access to beaches, rivers, lakes and pools in San Diego, we must continue to support these programs at our public pools to protect the lives of San Diego residents," he said.

The Prevent Drowning Foundation announced a list of 50 children's books that can be part of the lifelong family discussion of water and water safety and is working to get these books into libraries throughout the region, as part of the "2024 Water Safety Family Book Pool Project."

Many of the books are available at the San Diego Public Library.

"The San Diego Public Library is happy to bring the life-saving message of water safety and drowning prevention to our patrons," said Library Director Misty Jones. "Residents can visit their local library for water safety storytimes, books on pool safety and other water safety resources."

The city's Parks and Recreation Department and PDFSD have also partnered with the San Diego Unified School District for Schools to Pools.  It takes students from SDUSD schools who do not know how to swim and gives them free swimming lessons and dry land water safety education, as well as free passes to city aquatics facilities.

"As we approach summer vacation, promoting water safety and access to swimming lessons to our youth and families is both a safety issue and an equity issue," said San Diego Unified School District Board of Education Trustee Richard Barrera. "San Diego is well known for its beautiful beaches and warm weather, and every child in this city should be educated on water safety."

Also participating in the event was Miss California's Teen 2023, Marlie Wright, a freshman at the University of San Diego and graduate of El Camino High School in Oceanside. Wright, who is a pool lifeguard herself, has "committed to water safety through her platform and works to ensure access and equity in aquatics."

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