Mayor Sylvester Turner is partnering with the Houston Health Department and Judah Brown Project to raise awareness about the risk of childhood drownings, educate parents and caregivers about reducing the risk, and link people to additional resources to help save lives.
Mayor Turner and the non-profit organization recently produced a public service announcement video and the health department developed an educational webpage.
Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death for children ages 1-4.
“I can’t imagine the unbearable heartache of losing a child, but the Browns experienced it and have a powerful story to share to prevent others from experiencing the same pain,” said Mayor Turner. “This valuable partnership further extends Judah’s legacy and gives parents and caregivers valuable information and resources.”
The Judah Brown Project partners with agencies that offer survival swim instruction, CPR certification, and other lifesaving education to families of children ages 1-4. Annette Courtney, Judah’s preschool teacher, established the charity following the 3-year-old’s drowning death. Judah’s parents, Christi and Mark Brown, then partnered with Annette.
“Most of the time parents of children who drown are not outright negligent; they simply have a false sense of security regarding their child and water,” Mark said. “For example, parents need to understand that traditional swimming lessons do not provide children under four the skills to save themselves from drowning. That ability comes from survival swim lessons.”
No child is “drown-proof.” However, parents and caregivers can significantly reduce the risk by using the following layers of protection:
- Designate a “water watcher.” This adult is responsible for keeping their eyes on all children in the water and should be free of all distractions — including cell phones and socializing. The “water watcher” should be switched every 15 minutes to avoid attention fatigue.
- Teach children to swim. Survival swimming lessons teach children self-rescue techniques to help prevent water accident deaths. Traditional swimming lessons teach children proper swimming strokes.
- Learn CPR. Become certified in CPR and update your skills annually. It could save the life of your child or another person.
- Have proper barriers. Ensure the fence around your pool is at least five feet tall with a self-closing and self-latching gate. Make sure doors and windows to the pool are always locked and alarmed. Install a pool alarm to alert you when anyone goes into the water.
Information about free and low-cost swimming lessons, organizations that offer swim lesson scholarships, and more water safety resources is available at HoustonHealth.org.
Concerns about the safety of pools in Houston can be reported to Houston Health Department pool inspectors via 311.