Swim safety educators join forces; Water Safety Task Force, Abbeys Hope Charitable Foundation work together to lower drowning rate

BY TANYA MAY

Sun Intern

After 20 drownings last year in Hennepin County, the Twin Cities Water Safety Task Force has created a program in hopes to lower or even eliminate that number.

The Twin Cities Water Safety Task Force started in April 2012 and has developed a program to educate citizens about water safety. The program includes a 2-minute video and a water safety demonstration in the pool.

The task force also hopes that apartment managers or owners will make it a requirement for residents to watch so that all those living in apartments with pools can be educated on swim safety, said Lisa Kiava, spokeswoman for Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office, which is sponsoring the program.

The video is being translated in six languages in hopes to reach all the diverse citizens of Hennepin County.

"The goal is to reach the under-served community," said Jon Foss, CEO and co-founder of Foss Swim Schools.

On June 20, Foss, of Minneapolis, spoke about water safety at the Twin Lake Apartments in Brooklyn Center.

There was a near drowning of a 7-year-old girl at the apartment complex two weeks ago, said Brooklyn Center Police Cmdr. Brian Peters.

Representatives from task force partner Abbeys Hope Charitable Foundation were also at the event.

Abbeys Hope was started in 2008 after 6-year-old Abigail Taylor passed away due to injuries she suffered from an improperly maintained wading pool drain.

Abbey’s mother Katey Taylor, of Edina, worked with the Legislature to pass the "Abigail Taylor Pool and Safety Act," requiring all pools in Minnesota to have safe drains.

Abbeys Hope Charitable Foundation partnered with the task force because of similar goals, between the to organizations.

"It’s been a privilege being involved," Taylor said.

The two teams have been speaking about water safety at apartment complexes in the northern suburbs of Minneapolis.

The group has been presenting to between 500 and 600 people and some events are broadcasted on television, expanding their reach.

"I think it’s been well received," Taylor said.

Allen Korn of Edina works with Abbeys Hope Charitable Foundation in hopes to help lower the drowning rate in the area.

"The goal is to have a whole summer go by without a pool, spa or lake drowning," he said.

One key safety tip the task force highlights is active supervision.

"Everyone is watching, but know who is really watching," Korn said.

The task force is continuing to work on educating citizens on water safety.

"Drowning is a very common event, it is a silent and terrifying event when it occurs, but it is preventable," Foss said.

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