Turning the tides on child drowning
Rebecca Wear Robinson
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Update on Global Initiatives

by Rebecca Wear Robinson on May 9, 2012

I’ve highlighted several initiatives in the past few months. Time for an update.

1. Petition to the United Nations: Add Drowning to Millennium Development Goal #4, Reduce Childhood Mortality.

542 signatures from a truly staggering 52 countries signed the petition. (countries listed below) I’ll be closing the petition on May 15 and submitting the signatures to the International Life Saving Federation to aid them in their diplomatic efforts with the U.N. Can you help me get at least 1,000 signatures by May 15? Please post the link on your Facebook page or share via e-mail – and ask people to pass it on!

The low number of signatures probably reflects our general reticence in the drowning prevention community to leverage social media. There was a surge in countries where effort to publicize the petition via Facebook or e-mail took place, namely Portugal and the U.S. I do think we deserve a high-five over the incredible breadth of countries that responded though – we heard from 6 of the 7 continents!

2. International Water Safety Day. Scheduled for May 15. Anthony Erwin has signed on as spokesperson, Open Water Source and USA Swimming are among the organizations that are participating. Check out the web-site to see what is going on and what you can do to participate.

3. International Open Water Safety Guidelines. In a very short time we had confirmation that the following organizations have adopted the guidelines (in order of confirmation): Seattle Children’s Hospital, State of Washington (US), NDPA, STA, IFSTA, Aquatic Educations, Kenya Life Saving Foundation, Netherlands (swim teacher manuals), Safely Living web-site, Switzerland SLG, The Life Saving Foundation (Ireland), Joshua Collingsworth Foundation, Water Safe Auckland, New Zealand Water Safety Code, SOBRASA, Royal Life Saving Society Australia, Swimming Pool Safety Company.

Several other major organizations are in the process of walking the guidelines through the proper channels and expect to adopt and promote them. I’ll be contacting many more organizations directly over the next 3 months encouraging them to adopt the guidelines, but if you are interested or have already adopted them, please contact me at rebeccalioness@gmail.com . The guidelines are listed at the bottom of this blog.

4. I’ll end by launching a new initiative. I interviewed Mario Vittone last night. (I know, I love my work! I’ll post the interview next week.) Mario has written THE only article on drowning prevention ever to have gone viral. It has been translated into 14 languages and is constantly being reprinted. If you haven’t read it, I strongly recommend it. Click here for the link. Mario wrote the article when he realized that even trained open water rescue professionals don’t always know what drowning looks like, despite the seminal work of Dr. Francesco Pia 40 years ago on the subject. Staggeringly enough, this knowledge has still not been incorporated into all life saving and open water rescue training curriculums. Your assignment? Read Mario’s article. And then share it with our friends and family and especially with your curriculum director if you work in any area of drowning prevention and life saving. The article went viral in the first place because of the powerful mom network, not because of the drowning prevention community. Time to get on board and see if we can harness our resources as effectively!

Petition Signatures

1. U.S.
2. South Africa
3. U.K.
4. Australia
5. Jamaica
6. Israel
7. Brazil
8. Canada
9. New Zealand
10. Serbia
11. Macedonia
12. Sweden
13. Spain
14. Colombia
15. Mexico
16. Ireland
17. Bosnia and Herzegovina
18. India
19. Philippines
20. Greece
21. Bangladesh
22. Portugal
23. Uganda
24. Cameroon
25. Saudi Arabia
26. Panama
27. Argentina
28. Switzerland
29. Finland
30. Qatar
31. Sri Lanka
32. Fiji
33. United Arab Emirates
34. Jersey
35. Norway
36. Kenya
37. United Republic of Tanzania
38. Paraguay
39. Guam
40. Netherlands
41. Thailand
42. Aruba
43. Nepal
44. Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela
45. Malaysia
46. Ghana
47. Singapore
48. Benin
49. Viet Nam
50. Armed Forces Pacific – U.S.
51. Plurinational State of Bolivia
52. Maldives

International Open Water Safety Guidelines

Care of Self
Learn swimming and water survival skills.
Always swim with others.
Obey all safety signs and warning flags.
Never go in the water after drinking alcohol.
Know how and when to use a life jacket.
Swim in areas with a lifeguard.
Know the weather and water conditions before getting in the water.
Always enter shallow and unknown water feet first. 

Care of Others
Help and encourage others, especially children, to learn swimming and water safety survival skills.
Swim in areas with lifeguards.
Set water safety rules.
Always provide close and constant attention to children you are supervising in or near water.
Know how and when to use a life jacket, especially with children and weak swimmers.
Learn first aid and CPR.
Learn safe ways of rescuing others without putting yourself in danger.
Obey all safety signs and warning flags.

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