Local Heroes Honored, Water Safety Promoted During 13th Annual April Pools Day Event

KING COUNTY, WA - Saving lives on the water was the focus of today’s April Pools Day event at the Covington Aquatics Center.

KING COUNTY, WA - Saving lives on the water was the focus of today’s April Pools Day event at the Covington Aquatics Center. King County Executive Ron Sims, Public Health - Seattle & King County, the American Red Cross, and the Washington Drowning Prevention Network honored King County residents who saved others from drowning and encouraged people to attend April Pools Day events to learn how to stay safe in the water.

“Water sports are a healthy way to have fun, and April Pools Day is an appealing way for children and adults to learn how to keep safe while swimming and boating,” said King County Executive Ron Sims.

Saturday, April 22, is April Pools Day for most facilities in King County and around the state. These events combine water safety activities and a free swim. This year, 39 pools in King County and around Washington will take part in April Pools Day.

“Being active is part of a healthy lifestyle, and water sports are great way to be more active,” said Dorothy Teeter, Interim Director and Health Officer for Public Health - Seattle & King County. “Remember to carefully watch your children at pools and beaches, swim only at lifeguarded beaches, avoid drinking alcohol when swimming or boating, and wear a life jacket in open water.”

Last year in the Puget Sound region, five people drowned over the Memorial Day weekend. In 2005, 17 people died in unintentional drownings in King County; two of these were young people under 21 years old.

“Drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury death among children. Those at most risk include small children aged 1 to 4 and teenagers 15 to 19,” said Dr. Linda Quan of Seattle Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center. “Drowning is entirely preventable.”

View more information on water safety (PDF) or a list of pools participating in April Pools Day (PDF).

Today Executive Sims and other officials recognized the following people for water rescues in 2005:

  • Fourteen year old Jahfel Stubblefield, his mother Sabrina Lockett, and his aunt Sheri Moore: The family saved a six year old from drowning in a Kent apartment-complex pool.
  • Bob Iwasaki, Gary Lidstone, George Piontek, and Paul Richter: While golfing in Federal Way, they spotted a groundskeeper who was trapped under water by his mower. The four-some freed him.
  • Todd Hickam and Ryan Thornhill: These cable company workers saved a 10 year old from drowning in a Des Moines apartment complex pool.

Executive Sims also honored:

  • Susanna Kang, a Seattle teenager, for her work to initiate youth-oriented drowning prevention activities in Seattle
  • Diane Jones, Seattle Parks and Recreation, for 30 years of leadership and exceptional service promoting water safety

Important Water Safety Tips

  • Swim and boat only when sober.
  • Wear a life jacket or vest when swimming or boating in open water like the ocean, lakes and rivers.
  • Take extra precaution when swimming in fast-moving rivers. The currents and cold water temperatures can be extremely dangerous.
  • Ensure that infants and children wear a life jacket or vest when in or near open water. Washington law requires children twelve years old and younger to wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket or vest on all vessels less than nineteen feet.
  • Supervise children when they are in or near all types of water. Appoint sober adults to supervise children at beach or pool gatherings. Ensure supervisors are close enough to provide immediate rescue to children in need.
  • Ensure all family members know how to swim.
  • Swim only in areas with lifeguards.
  • Learn CPR.

About Public Health - Seattle & King County

Public Health - Seattle & King County is among the largest metropolitan health departments in the country, providing effective and innovative health and disease prevention services that achieve and sustain safer and healthier communities for over 1.8 million residents and visitors of King County.

Answering the needs of an increasingly diverse population, Public Health - Seattle & King County touches people’s lives every day through health promotion and prevention activities, disease surveillance, health care, outreach and referral services, environmental health services, emergency medical care, jail health services, and readiness and response to public health emergencies.

About Seattle Children’s

Consistently ranked as one of the best children’s hospitals in the country by U.S. News & World Report, Seattle Children’s serves as the pediatric and adolescent academic medical referral center for the largest landmass of any children’s hospital in the country (Washington, Alaska, Montana and Idaho). For more than 100 years, Seattle Children’s has been delivering superior patient care while advancing new treatments through pediatric research. Seattle Children’s serves as the primary teaching, clinical and research site for the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Washington School of Medicine. The hospital works in partnership with Seattle Children’s Research Institute and Seattle Children’s Hospital Foundation. For more information, visit www.seattlechildrens.org or follow us on Twitter or Facebook.