Let’s talk drowning statistics for a minute. I know that this topic is uncomfortable but I am someone who knows the pain that is felt from a loved one drowning in a tragic and preventable accident. So I am ready to discuss it if you are.

Last year was the second-worst year on record. Nine people died in the ocean, including a lifeguard executing a rescue. Three died in a spa. Six drowned in community pools, 13 drowned in family pools and eight people died in bathtubs. Yes, bathtubs! And that’s only in Orange County.

In total last year, including one drowning in which the water source remains unknown, 41 people drowned in what officials call needless deaths. In 2012, the worst year on record, there were 53 deaths. The first responders to these calls is the Orange County Fire Authority (OCFA) and they will be the first to tell you that almost every single one of these cases is preventable. Now, let’s talk about those that survived. There were 44 near drownings, many of which resulted in permanent brain damage. OCFA Captain Steve Concialdi calls Orange County “ground zero” for drownings.

Let’s be honest, as Californians, we are very attracted to water. We have great weather all year long and we have unbelievable resources available to us. We have an abundance of pools, beautiful beaches, and lakes, all within a short driving distance. To our kids, for the most part, water means playtime!

We owe it to our kids to prepare them for whatever harm may come their way. One of the greatest harms to exist in Orange County is none other than water, the very thing our kids associate with as playtime. If water is synonymous with fun, then we need to do everything to reverse the trend on these senseless drowning accidents. As a swim school owner, it is my responsibility to be an expert in my field and part of that expertise comes with research. The most basic research you can do is to place an open-ended phrase in the Google search line. In this case, I put in the words “drowning in Orange County.” The results that came back were staggering, one article after another detailing how young innocent kids have drowned over the past few years. Most of these drownings just don’t make any sense. Do you know what city has the highest drowning rates in Orange County? Irvine. Do you know what city won the award for the safest city in the United States for the second year in a row? Irvine. I guess they do not take drowning rates into consideration when awarding this honor.

What is the best way to protect our kids from these preventable tragedies? Nothing can make an individual 100% safe around water but what can make you and your kids safer is to actively participate in swim lessons. Did you know that participation in formal swimming lessons could reduce the risk of drowning by 88 percent among children aged one to fours years (Source: Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine 2009)?

So here is my challenge/offer to you. If you are actively participating in year-round swim lessons, reach out to a friend that may not be and offer them the opportunity to do the same. I will offer a 10% discount to all families that sign up in the month of May. I will also offer a $25.00 credit to all families that refer new families to our program. My goal is that we work to prevent as many of these tragedies as possible and that as a community, we make room on our schedule for year-round swim lessons. The more families that we can get to this the more likely we are to being a truly, safer community.

Felipe Delgado