Drowning Prevention Awareness Program

State: FL Type: Promising Practice Year: 2014

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The goal of the practice is to reduce the number of drowning incidents in Brevard County. The objectives used to achieve our goal are:

  1. Distribute public awareness messages by using electronic billboards, radio broadcasts, brochures, and Public Service Announcements
  2. Team up with Florida Department of Health’s Office of Injury and Prevention and their WaterproofFL® Campaign to provide door alarms to the public,
  3. Attend public events to distribute drowning prevention materials,
  4. Distribute drowning prevention brochures to local area hospitals and health department clinics to target parents of newborns and young children
  5. Sponsor swim lessons for low income families with children under the age of 5.
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Brevard County Health Department
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Drowning Prevention Awareness Program
The Florida Department of Health in Brevard County, herein referred to as DOH – Brevard, is located in the east-central region of Florida along the Atlantic Ocean, also known as the Space Coast. Brevard County has been ranked in Florida’s top ten for drowning deaths for years. In 2012, Brevard County was ranked 8th out of 67 counties for drowning deaths and the drowning rate of children up to the age of 5 is higher for Brevard County than overall in the State of Florida. The goal of the practice is to reduce the number of drowning incidents in Brevard County. The objectives used to achieve our goal are: Distribute public awareness messages by using electronic billboards, radio broadcasts, brochures, and Public Service Announcements Team up with Florida Department of Health’s Office of Injury and Prevention and their WaterproofFL® Campaign to provide door alarms to the public, Attend public events to distribute drowning prevention materials, Distribute drowning prevention brochures to local area hospitals and health department clinics to target parents of newborns and young children Sponsor swim lessons for low income families with children under the age of 5. For the past 2 years, our department has teamed up with the Florida Department of Health’s Office of Injury Prevention and has actively participated in the WaterproofFL® Campaign. DOH - Brevard used this campaign message to educate families on drowning prevention by distributing educational materials, water watcher tags and door alarms at public events such as health fairs, 5K races, schools, daycares, hospitals, YMCAs, public parks, and during swimming lessons in partnership with other local drowning prevention educators like the YMCA and Infant Swim Rescue Organization. We routinely issue press releases to inform our residents and visitors about drowning prevention, safety barriers, emergency preparedness such as CPR training, and National Drowning Prevention Month. A DOH - Brevard official attends meetings with a local drowning prevention organization called Swim Safe Forever. DOH - Brevard was awarded 2 - $5,000 grants from the Florida Department of Health’s Injury Prevention Program for Child Drowning Prevention services in 2013. With the first grant, we partnered with a private vendor, Clear Channel Outdoor, to purchase billboard space to display powerful drowning prevention messages on digital billboards throughout Brevard County from April through July 2013. DOH – Brevard will use the second grant to collaborate with Clear Channel Entertainment to prepare a number of 5 to 15 second Radio Public Service Announcements (PSA) focusing on the different areas of drowning prevention awareness. Since 2009, our department has also applied for and received annual contract agreements from the United States Consumer Product and Safety Commission to inspect public pools and spas to ensure main drain covers, secondary back-up systems, and equalizer lines are compliant with the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act. DOH – Brevard’s drowning prevention awareness practices have been spotlighted in multiple outlets. The department’s accomplishments for drowning prevention awareness were highlighted in Governor Rick Scott’s weekly newsletter that is sent to all government employees in Florida’s 67 counties. We were also recognized by Florida Representative Steve Crisafulli for our drowning prevention efforts. On April 16, 2013, the Brevard County Board of County Commissioners declared May as Water Safety and Drowning Prevention Month in Brevard County. DOH - Brevard was honorably recognized at the 2013 annual conference of the National Environmental Health Association for outstanding contributions of public health officials to advancing safer and healthier use of recreational waters. We were the single nationwide recipients to receive the Dr. Neil Lowry Award presented by the Association of Pool and Spa Professionals and received $5,000 to promote drowning prevention.All objectives have been met. DOH – Brevard continues these practices and efforts to bring awareness of drowning prevention to Brevard County residents and visitors. With DOH – Brevard’s dedication and hard work in promoting drowning prevention awareness, we have received a 2012 grant for $5,000, a 2013 grant for $5,000 with another $5,000 recurring in 2014, and awarded another $5,000 to go towards drowning prevention awareness. This money has funded our practice in working towards our goal of reducing drowning incidents in Brevard County. DOH – Brevard has been able to potentially reach millions of residents and visitors with our drowning prevention messages.
The Florida Department of Health in Brevard County is located in the central region of Florida along the Atlantic Ocean, also known as the Space Coast. According to the United States Census, there are approximately 544,000 people in Brevard County ranking us as the 9th largest populated county in Florida. Brevard County is 1557 square miles and 34% of the county is water. Annually, Brevard County has approximately 2.4 million overnight visitors and 1.2 million day visitors. Our county has 72 miles of beaches, bathing lakes, canals, the St. Johns River, the Indian River Lagoon, Mosquito Lagoon and the Banana River. We have other additionally significant recreational waterways such as Lake Washington, Lake Poinsett, Lake Winder, and Sawgrass Lake. Along with these natural bodies of water, 1,061 public pools and 59,119 private pools are located throughout the county. Last year Brevard County was ranked 8th out of 67 counties for drowning deaths in Florida. Drowning is the leading cause of death among children ages 1-4 in Florida and is the highest in the nation. In 2011, 447 Florida residents drowned. There were an additional 320 hospitalizations for non-fatal drownings. Children ages 1-4 made up 14% of the deaths and 31% of the hospitalizations. In Florida: Drowning is the first ranking cause of death for children between 1 and 4 years old Drowning is the second ranking cause of death for children between 5 and 9 years old. Drowning  is the third ranking cause of death for children under 1 year of age. Brevard County has been ranked in Florida’s top ten for drowning for years. Bringing awareness to life saving drowning prevention methods is critical to reducing the number of drowning deaths in Brevard County. DOH - Brevard’s current challenge is spreading the important drowning prevention message to a population of 544,000 residents spread out over a 72 mile long county. There were over 60 fatal injuries and 119 non-fatal drownings between 2007 and 2010 in Brevard County. In 2011 there were 19 fatal injuries and 20 non-fatal drownings in Brevard County. In 2012, there were 19 fatal injuries; non-fatal injury statistics is not yet available. So far in 2013, media has reported 2 fatal injuries and 3 non-fatal drownings; this number does not include emergency room visits, accidents, or drowning deaths not reported to the media. The drowning rate of children up to age 5 is higher in Brevard County than overall in the State of Florida. Brevard County has approximately 27,000 people under the age of five, which makes it extremely important to spread this message. Proper supervision, safety barriers for pools and other bodies of water, and CPR training can mean the difference between life and death. DOH – Brevard potentially reached millions of Brevard County residents and visitors with the digital billboard displays and could reach thousands more with our radio ads. We have attended numerous public events in which we gave out drowning prevention educational materials and door alarms. We also have posters on display in our 3 county health department clinics and our Environmental Health Services department which is seen by a large volume of clients daily. We have reached out to daycares because their main cliental are children under the age of 5. Prior to this practice, DOH – Brevard was able to deliver water watcher tags to pool stores and the YCMAs. The department also provided flyers for those locations and our three health department clinic sites. DOH – Brevard has expanded this practice to address the high rate of drowning incidents within the county. Within the past 2 years we have potentially reached millions of residents and visitors with our drowning prevention messages, provide drowning prevention materials, and provide door alarms to low income families to provide a barrier to water bodies. Drowning Prevention Awareness is not new to the field of public health, but the practice has expanded within the county.
The goal of the practice is to reduce the number of drowning incidents in Brevard County. The objectives used to achieve our goal are: Distribute public awareness messages by using electronic billboards, radio broadcasts, brochures, and Public Service Announcements, Team up with Florida Department of Health’s Office of Injury and Prevention and their WaterproofFL® Campaign to provide door alarms to the public, Attend public events to distribute drowning prevention materials, Distribute drowning prevention brochures to local area hospitals and health department clinics to target parents of newborns and young children Provide swim lessons for low income families with children under the age of 5. For the past two years, our department has teamed up with the Florida Department of Health’s Office of Injury Prevention and has actively participated in the WaterproofFL® Campaign. The campaign provides free educational material and door alarms to counties that rank in the top 10 in the state for drowning incidents. DOH - Brevard used this campaign message to educate families on drowning prevention by distributing educational materials, water watcher tags and door alarms at public events such as health fairs, 5K races, schools, daycares, hospitals, YMCAs, public parks, and during swimming lessons in partnership with other local drowning prevention educators like the YMCA and Infant Swim Rescue Organization. The department also obtains free educational materials from the Consumer Product and Safety Commissions’ Pool Safely program. We routinely issue press releases to inform our residents and visitors about drowning prevention, safety barriers, emergency preparedness such as CPR training, and National Drowning Prevention Month. A DOH - Brevard official meets with a local drowning prevention organization called Swim Safe Forever to regularly discuss drowning prevention ideas. On April 16, 2013 Coast Guard Officials, Josh the Otter®, Swim Safe Forever, Inc., and DOH - Brevard officials were recognized by the Brevard County Board of County Commissioners as they approved a County Resolution that declared May as Water Safety and Drowning Prevention Month in Brevard County. Along with Florida Department of Health’s Office of Injury Prevention’s WaterproofFL® Campaign and United States Consumer Product’s Safety Commission’s Pool Safely Program, we have teamed up with other stakeholders. DOH – Brevard has fostered collaboration with other stakeholders such as Clear Channel Outdoor, Clear Channel Communications, Swim Safe Forever, Inc., and most importantly the residents and visitors of Brevard County. DOH – Brevard has developed excellent working relationships with our stakeholders. They are willing to contribute their resources to assist us in obtaining our goal to reduce the number of drowning incidents in our county. The Florida Department of Health is responsible for permitting and inspecting public swimming pools and spas under Chapter 64E-9 Florida Administrative Code (F.A.C.). Since 2009, our department has applied for and received annual contract agreements from the United States Consumer Product and Safety Commission to inspect public pools and spas to ensure main drain covers, secondary backup systems, and equalizer lines are compliant with the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act. Our department prioritized these public pool and spa inspections based on direct suction or exemption from regulation of Chapter 64E-9 F.A.C. standards in an effort to eliminate incidents of entrapment of hair, body, limb, evisceration or disembowelment. We inspected 529 public pools, spas, wading pools and water activities, which helped take an aggressive approach to ensure federal life and safety measures were being met.DOH-Brevard was awarded a $5,000 grant from the Florida Department of Health’s Injury Prevention Program for Child Drowning Prevention services in February 2013. We partnered with a private vendor, Clear Channel Outdoor, to purchase billboard space to display powerful drowning prevention messages on digital billboards throughout Brevard County from April through July 2013. We used the $5,000 grant money and Clear Channel Outdoor matched the funds giving us a total of $10,000 for this project. Our department worked with Clear Channel Outdoors’ production team and developed the critical messages that were used on the digital billboards allowing them to be viewed by all residents and visitors in our county 24 hours a day, seven days a week during the primary swimming season. The messages were displayed with the importance of supervision, physical barriers, emergency preparedness, and knowledge of CPR. The billboards were located along our major roadways, placing a significant spotlight on our drowning prevention message for all Brevard County residents (especially parents of children under the age of 5), daily commuters and millions of visitors to our county during the peak spring and summer seasons. The digital billboards were located in the heart of our major tourist attraction areas such as Port Canaveral (the world’s second largest port), NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, and resident/visitor routes to and from the Orlando-Metropolitan area. Clear Channel Outdoor provided us with monthly real time data reports showing the amount of times the messages were displayed on the digital billboards. These critical messages were displayed 151,942 times between April 1 and June 30. The messages were displayed on a minimum of 6 digital billboards, with an average of 1,709 daily ad spots. DOH-Brevard was awarded another grant from the Florida Department of Health’s Injury Prevention Program for Child Drowning Prevention services in August 2013. The grant project will support another 2 years of drowning prevention efforts and is to be distributed as $5,000 each year for a total of $10,000. DOH-Brevard is currently collaborating with Clear Channel to prepare a number of 5 to 15 second Radio Public Service Announcements (PSA) focusing on the different areas of drowning prevention awareness. We will use $4,000 of the grant money and Clear Channel Outdoor will match the funds giving us a total of $8,000 for this project. The PSAs will run on Lite Rock 99.3, a radio station which has a target audience of families within the age range of 25 to 54 years old, predominately female, and a mixture of income and educational profiles. The average weekly cumulative audience is approximately 45,000 listeners. The PSAs will be changed periodically throughout the project timeline to accommodate the time of year and holidays. Fall and Winter months will focus on barriers, door alarms for sliding glass/screen doors, child and infant CPR, removing pool toys from the water when it is not in use, and supervision. Spring and Summer months will focus on those same items, but will highlight May being National Drowning Prevention month, the importance of having a designated water watcher during Family BBQ’s/parties/events, benefits of swimming lessons and holidays such as Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day. The county’s geographic challenges and large number of residents makes it difficult to spread the drowning prevention awareness message at small local events. By using radio PSA’s, we will be able to reach a larger proportion of Brevard County residents, specifically parents of children under the age of 5, and the millions of tourists that visit our county. Clear Channel has guaranteed us at minimum 25 commercial spots a week distributed every day between 5 am and midnight during the period of October 2013 to June 2014. During specific weeks leading up to holidays, Clear Channel has agreed to double the commercial spots due to the importance of the messages.We will be using the remaining $1,000 from the grant for a second project. We will purchase Drowning Prevention Awareness Brochures in bulk, printed in color, and distributed throughout the year to each of the 5 local hospitals and the 3 Heath Department clinics within Brevard County. These brochures will highlight the layers of protection from drowning. With approximately 5,000 babies being born in Brevard County a year, this is a great opportunity to reach out and educate parents at the beginning of the child’s life in hopes of eliminating accidental drownings within this county. Approximately 25% of all Brevard County maternity patients use the county health department clinics for their prenatal checkups. We will partner with our clinic staff members to distribute these brochures to them at that time. We believe it is important to provide drowning prevention education to expectant parents as early as possible. DOH-Brevard was recognized at the 2013 annual conference of the National Environmental Health Association for outstanding contributions of public health officials to advancing safer and healthier use of recreational waters. Our department was the single nationwide program selected to receive the Dr. Neil Lowry Memorial Award presented by the Association of Pool and Spa Professionals. With this award, we received $5,000 to put towards our drowning prevention awareness program. DOH - Brevard will be partnering with Swim Safe Forever, Inc. Swim Safe Forever, Inc. provides swim lesson scholarships to children up to the age of 6 years old that belong to families who would not otherwise be financially able to pay for swim lessons on their own. These scholarships also financially assist families based on their children’s medical needs. A new student is generally granted 6 weeks of lessons and the refresher courses are generally 2 to 3 weeks. Families may choose any instructor at any location of their choice as long as their method is specific to survival swim instruction. With the large amount of swimming pools and recreational waters we have in Brevard County, teaching children to swim at an early age is a crucial factor in reducing drowning deaths. DOH-Brevard plans to continue this practice long term. As the number of drowning deaths reduce, the level of effort towards educating others on drowning prevention awareness will remain steadfast.
The goal of the practice is to reduce the number of drowning incidents in Brevard County. The objectives used to achieve our goal are: distribute public awareness messages by using electronic billboards, radio broadcasts, brochures, and Public Service Announcements team up with Florida Department of Health’s Office of Injury and Prevention and their WaterproofFL® Campaign to provide door alarms to the public attend public events to distribute drowning prevention materials distribute drowning prevention brochures to local area hospitals and health department clinics to target parents of newborns and young children provide swim lessons for low income families with children under the age of 5. These objectives were accomplished by the following actions: Distributed 500 dual-pack door alarms. To receive a door alarm, the recipient had to have children in the home and access to a water body. To verify they met these requirements they had to complete a voucher verifying how many children were in the home, age of the children, if the home had access to a pool, lake, river, or canal. The recipient also needed to provide an email address. Once the vouchers were completed, they were delivered to FDOH’s Office of Injury Prevention. Distributed thousands of brochures, water watcher tags, flyers, and posters. We also distributed fun items that had drowning prevention messages on them such as fans, stickers, tattoos, beach balls, and sunglasses. These items were a great way to incorporate the younger participants at events. These materials were handed out at public events, daycare centers, schools, public parks, and delivered to swim lesson instructors to give to the clients. Attended 8 public events such as Kid Fest, 2 Health Fairs, Not One More Child Drowns 5K, World’s Largest Swimming Lesson, Cocoa Riverfront 4th of July Fireworks, 5K and Water Safety Day, and 25th Anniversary Celebration at a local public aquatic center. Attended 10 meetings focused drowning prevention awareness such as Brevard County Commission meeting, National Environmental Health Association annual meeting, 2 Florida Swimming Pool and Spa Association meetings, Early Learning Coalition of Brevard County meeting, and 5 Swim Safe Forever meetings. Broadcasting of critical drowning prevention messages on digital billboards throughout Brevard County. Clear Channel Outdoor delivered the department monthly Proof of Performance Reports. These reports provided us the number of daily and weekly spots that were displayed. For the three months of April, May, and June 2013 we averaged 1,700 daily spots and 12,000 weekly spots. We were guaranteed a total of 111,250 spots for the entire project, but Clear Channel was able to provide us with 151,942 spots. That is 40,692 extra spots at no cost. These digital billboards provided drowning prevention messages to millions of residents and visitors of Brevard County Distribute English and Spanish color brochures on drowning prevention to each of our 5 local hospitals and 3 health department clinics to the parents of newborns. There were 5,000 babies born in Brevard County in 2012 and this is a great opportunity to reach out to new parents. These brochures will be given to the parents with the packets of other educational materials as they leave the hospital. Currently teaming up with Clear Channel Entertainment to bring awareness of life saving drowning prevention methods by using the media in the form of radio public service announcements. By using radio PSA’s, we will be able to reach a larger portion of Brevard County residents and visitors. According to Clear Channel Entertainment’s ranking reports, Lite Rock 99.3 has an average of 44,600 weekly cumulative listeners. This radio station has a target audience of listeners that are within our demographics of 25 to 54 years of age, predominately female, and a mixture of income and educational profiles. Clear Channel Entertainment will broadcast during the length of the project a minimum of 550 radio ad spots between 5 am and midnight every day of the week. Currently teaming up with Swim Safe Forever, Inc. a not for profit agency, to provide financial scholarships for swimming lessons to children between the ages of 6 months to 6 years of age whose parent’s income level are at or below 150% of the federal poverty level.DOH – Brevard has been extremely pleased with the outcome of our objectives and will continue them in addition to pursuing other opportunities to expand our drowning prevention efforts.
DOH-Brevard has been pursuing our practice’s goal for 2 years and we continue to expand our efforts. Previously, this practice had limited outreach. Since 2010, the numbers of resources and stakeholders have multiplied. Stakeholder relationships have been a key factor in meeting our objectives. We have learned to leverage funding and provide extra services through partner collaboration. The sustainability of this practice is partly due to WaterproofFL® and Pool Safely state and federal programs that support local efforts of providing educational materials and grants. Community support is extremely high from both partners and individual consumers, but funding remains tenuous given the economic climate. However, due to our active campaign, strength of partnerships and positive feedback/results, we have positioned ourselves to receive ongoing funding. Other no cost objectives, such as press releases and webpage information, assist with reaching our overall goal. The main expense to the department has been staff time needed to attend meetings, public events, and writing of grants. Even as we face a continuing loss of General Revenue, we continue to make our drowning prevention efforts a priority within our department. Executive management at DOH-Brevard has committed the personnel required to continue this valuable safety campaign to ensure Brevard County residents and visitors have continued access these drowning prevention messages. DOH-Brevard is unaware of any other state or federal programs currently being promoted in Brevard County to address drowning prevention awareness and feel it is very crucial for this information to be distributed to our residents and visitors.
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