Water Wise

Rebecca Kelley

Fri March 28, 2014 11:27am

During these sunny warm months, lasting memories are created in and around water. As children and families head to the pools, beaches and lakes with the rising temperatures, it’s important that water safety skills are at the forefront of their minds to ensure safety while having fun in the water. Drowning accidents are the leading cause of injury/deaths among children under the age of 5. Every day about 10 people die from drowning. Research shows participation in formal swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning by 88 percent among children ages 1 through 4, yet many children do not receive formal swimming or water safety training.  Under the leadership of Capt. Mike Filson with the Chula Vista Fire Department, the department has made drowning prevention a top priority. “As firefighters, we often hear comments such as I only turned away for a few seconds, I thought they were safe in the house or I assumed another adult at the party was watching the children swim. Unfortunately, a child can drown in just a few seconds. It happens quickly and quietly with very little splashing and no cries for help. We also know that drowning is preventable.  “Please take the steps necessary to ensure your kids are safe. Sign them up for swim class, learn CPR, and designate a water watcher anytime kids are in or near the pool. I am looking forward to another safe swim season,” said Filson. In addition to being one of our fire captains, Mike is a husband, father and Otay Ranch resident. Mike grew up in Chula Vista. He then went to San Diego State University, which led him to the U.S. Air Force. “Structure, call for service, camaraderie, order and family. I love what I do. I love helping others. My wife and I knew we wanted to call Otay Ranch home. We built our home here for several reasons: one, because both of our families are in Chula Vista; two, because it was a master-planned community; and three, because of its schools, parks and trails. I’m a father of two girls. One of our favorite things to do together is to camp on the beach.” Mike’s daughters are ages 9 and 12. “Drowning prevention is near and dear to not only my heart, but to my family, as well. I grew up around water. I was a swimmer and a lifeguard. Both of my girls are swimmers. They’re on swim teams and know how enjoyable, yet dangerous, water can be. I’ve answered too many calls where lives are lost due to drowning. If we can address drowning as a community, we’ll be stronger. So I challenge my Chula Vista neighbors: be informed and educated about what you can do to prevent drowning.” Rebecca Kelley is South County regional director of marketing, media and community relations at South Bay YMCA.