Austin/ Parks & Nature
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Published on May 23, 2024
Austin Officials Launch Wave of Water Safety Initiatives in May to Combat Drowning EpidemicSource: City of Austin

With the grills barely cooled off from the Memorial Day cookouts, Austin officials are turning up the heat on water safety awareness, marking May as National Water Safety Month. In a play to make a splash with safety precautions, Austin-area public health officials and first responders are pooling together to share critical tips on how to prevent drownings, particularly as residents are starting to hit the water to escape the scorching Texas heat.

Last year's grim toll of 440 drowning deaths, including 90 children, underscores a silent epidemic that doesn't discriminate by age. Austin Public Health, swimming against the current of public ignorance, warns that drownings are both "fast and silent" and can snare anyone, particularly children under four who face the highest backyard pool risk, while teenagers more often succumb in open waters. This information was detailed on the city's website.

With summer in full swing and aquatic adventures beckoning, authorities are touting a float plan of safety tips to keep families afloat. From Travis Co. Sheriff and APD Lake Patrol comes the advice to don or stow life jackets on boats, and utilize those shiny Nautical Navigational Lights for those daring the waves after dark. In the unwelcome event of a boating emergency, they recommend tossing a flotation device, keeping a bead on your location, and alerting others with a cacophony of yells, whistles, or horn honks.

In another stroke of preparedness, Austin's EMS stresses the importance of eyes-on supervision for children and the potentially life-saving technique of CPR, pointing out the disquieting statistic that only 28% of drowning victims are receiving CPR or rescue breathing before EMS arrival. Alertness around water is a given, but authorities put an additional emphasis on swimming in designated, guard-watched areas, respecting the often-hidden risks lurking beneath the surface. They're bolstering their front crawl against drowning through affordable swim lessons offered by Austin Parks and Recreation's Aquatic Division, pairing with financial aid opportunities for those who might otherwise sink financially.

As families prepare to dive into summer fun, the shadow of potential water tragedies looms. But with diligent supervision, educational initiatives, and the city's firm focus on preventing mishaps before they happen, Austin aims to turn the tide on water-related incidents. The full list of water safety resources provided, quite literally a lifesaver for the uninformed, can be found here.