The City of Poway launched a Poway Water Watcher program to encourage residents to always have a responsible adult assigned to watch kids around the water – and do so without distractions. During a presentation at the May 3 city council meeting, Community Services Director Audrey Denham announced that free “Water Watcher” lanyards will be made available at the Poway Community Swim Center, City Hall, Poway Fire Stations and at the May 7 Emergency and Safety Fair hosted by the Poway Neighborhood Emergency Corp (PNEC) at Old Poway Park from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The lanyards were inspired by a recent drowning in Poway in which two-year-old Mia fell into her grandparents’ pool. Thanks to the quick actions of her father and incredible teamwork of first responders and medical team at Rady Children's Hospital, her story has a happy ending – but that’s not always the case.
“As one of our fire captains stated, these are one of the most difficult calls we respond to as a first responder,” said Poway Fire Battalion Chief Rodney Ortiz. “As we head into May, which is Water Safety Month, and we want to take this opportunity to remind our community that most fatal drownings happen when there is poor or absent supervision.”
That’s where the Water Watcher lanyard comes in. The adult wearing the lanyard knows that for the period of time they have it, their top priority is to focus solely on the safety of others. It’s their reminder to remain alert, avoid distractions and to not leave the area without handing off Water Watcher duty to another responsible adult.
“Designating a Water Watcher is not the only thing you can do to ensure that your home and family are safe,” Denham said.
It’s important to make sure everyone in your family learns to swim, and lessons are offered at the Poway Community Swim Center for ages six months through adults (poway.org/swim). Also, Denham reminded residents to fence in pools and spas, and use US Coast Guard approved life jackets for inexperienced swimmers. Learning CPR is also important and PNEC is hosting two classes in May. Community members can sign up at the Emergency and Safety Fair or visit powaynec.com.
Photo: Community Services Director Audrey Denham (left) and Battalion Chief Rodney Ortiz (right) display Poway Water Watcher badges that will be given out at the May 7 Emergency and Safety Fair. Disaster Preparedness Coordinator Susy Turnbull (second from left) and Poway Neighborhood Emergency Corps President Terry Sorensen (second from right) spoke about other activities and information available at the fair, as well as an upcoming CPR class hosted by PNEC.