Editorial: Summer brings added dangers

June 6, 2006 – No family should have to go through the kind of suffering being experienced by the family of Jasper Blue. Last week, the 3-year-old Fort Pierce boy died after wandering outside and apparently drowning in a shallow, inflatable pool.

The scenario was all too familiar.

In 1993, Don and Amy Kryak of Port St. Lucie founded Never Leave a Child Unattended, a public education campaign, after three drownings and five near drownings in Port St. Lucie.

According to their Web site, drowning is the leading killer of children ages 4 and younger in Florida. It takes only a few seconds and an inch of water for a child to drown. The majority of children who drown in pools were last seen in the home and had been missing for less than five minutes.

Jasper and three other children were being watched by a 13-year-old cousin. Jasper and another 3-year-old apparently slipped out of the home while the cousin was dressing the other two children. Jasper died, apparently after getting into the 2-foot-deep pool.

On Sunday night, 2-year-old Jose Rodriguez Jr. drowned in a neighbor's pool in Lake Worth after wandering away from his grandfather.

Each year, particularly during summer months, children and others drown in pools, canals, lakes and the ocean on the Treasure Coast. While water is a valuable asset for the area, it's also a major danger, especially for those who do not know how to swim.

One summer day four years ago, three Fort Pierce brothers drowned in an unattended neighbor's pool. None of them were swimmers. That tragedy spurred creation of the Swim Collaborative of St. Lucie County, an organization dedicated to making swim lessons available to those who need them. Thousands have taken lessons, saving an untold number of lives.

But, drowning is not the only concern for the Never Leave a Child Unattended campaign of Don Kryak, a captain with the Port St. Lucie Police Department, and his wife, Amy, an expert in education and public relations. Summer months bring other dangers. Children left unattended in hot cars result in deaths every year in Florida. Some 75 percent of the deaths of children in hot cars result from parents leaving them unattended. Temperatures inside a vehicle can rise 34 degrees in half and hour and 43 degrees in an hour. A body temperature of 107 degrees is considered fatal.

The Kryaks also have safety tips for shopping with kids, for playgrounds and parks and on vacation. The summer can be a tremendously fun time for children and for parents. But, it can also be a time of danger and tragedy. Parents, remember Jasper Blue and learn from his death.

• About swimming lessons in St. Lucie County by calling the "Swim Hotline" at (772) 462-1515.
• About tips for child safety from pools to stores to vacation sites at www.neverleaveachildunattended.org.

For the original text of this article as published on TCPalm.com visit this link

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