Every year, children die needlessly as a result of drowning. One of those children was Mitchell Temple-Medhurst who drowned at the Port Stanley Beach in 2004. Mitchell had been in the care of a Children’s Aid Society at the time of his death, and the tragedy prompted an inquest and a complete review of the recommendations for water-based activities for children in care. Eight years ago, Family and Children’s Services of St. Thomas & Elgin began an initiative called Mitchell’s Medals to honour his memory and to encourage children in care to learn techniques that could one day save their life.
On June 28th, the Kawartha-Haliburton CAS held its 4th annual Mitchell’s Medals event in Peterborough for children in the care of the Society, or who receive services from the Society when living with family or community members. The Society’s goal was to provide the children with a chance to achieve proficiency in the “Swim to Survive” test as established by The Lifesaving Society of Canada.
DID YOU KNOW
The Life Saving Society of Canada designates the third week in July (July 16-22, 2017) as National Drowning Prevention Week (NDPW) to focus community and media attention on the drowning problem and drowning prevention. While the goal is to prevent drowning among all Ontarians, the Lifesaving Society focuses on priority target groups one of which is parents of children under 5 years of age. Private backyard pools present the greatest danger at this life stage, accounting for one-third of water-related deaths for young children under 5 years, although beaches and waterfronts on lakes and rivers also contribute.
Drowning is a silent killer and can happen in as little as 10 seconds. The Life Saving Society recommends that parents and caregivers be within arms’ reach of their children whenever they are near water, including the bath tub.
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO STAY SAFE
Always swim with a buddy. Most drowning victims can swim, but not all can take care of themselves when they get into trouble.
Wear a life jacket…most drowning victims never intend to get in the water. Trying to put your life jacket on before you capsize is like trying to buckle your seat belt just before you have an accident!
Swim in supervised areas – pools and beaches with lifeguards, or under direct supervision of an adult.
STAY SAFE AROUND THE POOL
- Never leave a child unsupervised near a pool.
- Completely fence the pool and install self-closing and self-
latching gates with latches positioned out of reach of young
- Do not use flotation devices as a substitute for supervision.
- Place tables and chairs well away from the pool fence to
prevent children from climbing into the pool area.
- Keep toys away from the pool area. A young child playing with the toys could accidentally fall into the pool area.
- Have a telephone at poolside to avoid having to leave children unattended in or near the pool when the phone rings.
- Learn CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and keep rescue equipment by the pool.