Evaluation of a Drowning Prevention Campaign in King County, Washington

Stay on Top of It, a three-year drowning prevention campaign from 1992 to 1994, focused on increasing the use of life vests (also known as life jackets, personal flotation devices or PFDs) among children in King County, Washington.

Social marketing and other behavioral theories were used in planning and implementation.

An evaluation was conducted to determine campaign awareness; changes in ownership and use of life vests by children on boats and docks and at beaches and swimming pools; and predictors of life vest use.

The campaign was recalled by 50% of families surveyed with children ages 1 to 14. Of those parents with an awareness of the campaign, there was a 14.5% increase (from 20% to 34%, p<.001) in the reported use of life vest by children ages 1 to 14 on docks, at beaches and at swimming pools.

Reported ownership of life vests for children ages 1 to 14 showed an increase of 11% (from 69% to 80%, p<.01) among those aware of the campaign.

Exposure to the campaign, self-efficacy in fitting a life vest, swimming ability of the child, age of the child and ownership of life vests were found to be associated with life vest use among children.

Campaign materials and program elements continue to be disseminated. Stay on Top of It fact sheets (PDF) are available.