Water Safety Campaign Creates First United Effort
March 31, 2006 -- The kick-off
of April Pools Day (Saturday April 1, 2006) may mark the start
of the warm water pool season but it also ushers in a season long
water safety education campaign orchestrated by numerous water
safety and first responders across Houston and Harris County.
April Pools Day reinforces the partnership created
between several organizations committed to protecting our children
from drowning, which can occur suddenly and silently. The goal
is to build awareness through efforts that will encourage use
of life jackets when kids are near large bodies of water and motivate
adults to be watchful when children are around any body of water
including mop buckets and 5-gallon containers. The team consists
of the Houston Police Department, Houston Fire Department, Safe
Kids, Greater Houston Water Safety Team, Houston/Harris County
Child Fatality Review Team and Texas Children's Hospital, just
to mention a few. The collective efforts of these agencies have
one main goal in mind: to reduce the incidence of child deaths
related to water safety.
"This front line proactive effort to prevent
injuries or deaths due to water submersion is the first step in
making sure our children grow up happy and healthy," said
HPD Chief Harold Hurtt. "As adults we must lead the way in
sheltering our children from harms way, so I encourage every parent
or guardian to enroll their child in swimming classes, and if
they can't swim, learn safety techniques," added Chief Hurtt.
The objective is to educate the public on ways
to keep kids safe as they enjoy water related activities. The
goal is to provide useful information to educate kids, parents
and adults on ways to make sure kids remain safe in and around
large and small bodies of water. The HPD Neighborhood Protection
Division is conducting abatement inspections on pools throughout
the city looking for violations requiring owners to make repairs
to pools with code violations or be shutdown. Inspectors are also
looking for abandoned pools behind homes that are not occupied.
Many children fall into these pools and drown. "We have an
aggressive program on going to combat potential drownings before
swimming season starts," said HPD Officer Jack Hanagrif of
the HPD Neighborhood Protection Corp.
Occupied property that have a fencing violation
that creates a dangerous pool is referred to the HPD and a DRT
Officer (Differential Response Team) will meet with the resident/owner
regarding code violations and compliance. Unoccupied properties
that have a fencing violation create a dangerous pool situation
and a "Make Safe Unit" will be sent out to evaluate
and attempt to temporarily secure the fence. Houston Trauma Link
is assisting HPD by identifying high-risk neighborhoods that have
had submersion incidents or pool violations. Those neighborhoods
will receive aggressive pool inspections and education campaigns.
For additional information, please
contact the HPD Public Affairs Division at 713-308-3200.