DPHHS, FWP to promote water safety

Over 300 life jackets donated to FWP Kids Don’t Float program
Thursday, July 15, 2021

Lt. Governor Kristen Juras, Department of Public Health and Human Services Deputy Director Laura Smith, and Fish, Wildlife and Parks Director Hank Worsech were joined today, July 12 with children from Rocky Mountain Preschool at Spring Meadow Lake to promote the FWP Kids Don’t Float program.

Recognizing the risk drowning poses to Montana’s kids, DPHHS has launched a collaboration with FWP to support Kids Don’t Float by donating over 300 life jackets.

Lt. Governor Juras encourages Montana families to get out and enjoy all the state’s abundant natural waterways this summer. But, it’s vital that safety is always at the forefront when it comes to children and water.

“I appreciate the partnership between DPHHS and FWP to help bolster Montana’s efforts to provide loaner life jackets that allow children to enjoy time in the water and provide peace of mind for parents,” Lt. Governor Juras said. “I urge Montanans to take all the necessary precautions this summer to avoid waterrelated tragedies that can happen so fast.”

Smith states that many drowning incidents are preventable.

“Drowning is the leading cause of death among children ages 1-4 nationally, and a top cause of death among teens,” Smith said. “Many of these could be prevented by following basic safety prevention steps.”

Over the past decade, Montana has averaged about four accidental drownings among children each year - including in natural waterways and in bathtubs when children were left unattended.

Worsech said the program supplies free loaner life jackets at about 60 locations near water across Montana. The program has been in existence since 1998.

“The life jacket loaner stations that are available across the state are there for Montanans to borrow a life jacket as they enjoy the water,” Worsech said. “This program has been available for many years, and it’s important that we ensure people are aware of it.”

DPHHS provides the following additional tips to help keep children safe when around water:

The American Academy of Pediatricians recommends layers of protection against drowning:

• Always be watching. Close, constant, attentive supervision around water is important. Assign an adult ‘water watcher,’ who should not be distracted by work, socializing, or chores.

• Everyone, children and adults, should wear US Coast Guard-approved life jackets whenever they are in open water, or on watercraft.

• All children and adults should learn to swim.

• Around the house, empty all buckets, bathtubs and wading pools immediately after use. If you have young children, keep the bathroom door closed, and use toilet locks to prevent access.

• Pools should be surrounded by a four-sided fence, with a selfclosing and self-latching gate. Research shows pool fencing can reduce drowning risk by 50%. Additional barriers can include door locks, window locks, pool covers and pool alarms.

• Adults and older children should learn CPR.

• Parents and teens should understand how using alcohol and drugs increases the risk of drowning while swimming or boating.

DPHHS provides additional tips on how to keep children safe at home:

• Never leave a baby alone or with young siblings in a bathtub even for a second.

• Always keep baby within arm’s reach. Children can drown quickly and silently.

• Keep the toilet lid down, and keep young children out of the bathroom when unsupervised.

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