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Learn to Keep Loved Ones Safe During National Water Safety Month


Published on May 12, 2021


Polk County has more than 500 lakes and water bodies, along with countless residential swimming pools that serve as a place of recreation and escape from the Florida heat.

With all of that water also means increased risks of water-related emergencies, especially during the summers. To lead up to that, May has been designated as National Water Safety Month.

Polk County Fire Rescue is called to multiple drownings and near-drownings across the county every year. The calls for service continue to climb.

Calls related to drownings increased by 75 percent in March and 40 percent in April, compared to the number of calls in 2020. That represents a three-year high.

The good news is that deaths are trending down for the last few years, from nine in 2019 to one this year. Near drownings are also on the decline with six for 2021, down from 15 in 2019.

“In Polk County, summer is synonymous with water,” said Polk Fire Rescue Chief Robert Weech. “It’s a way of life here. And we want to keep both our residents and visitor safe. If we can take this time to educate everyone, it might mean less tragic calls to us.”

National Water Safety Month began in 2003 and is supported by thousands of aquatics facilities and professionals through educational programs, public service announcements, governmental proclamations and distribution of water safety themed materials, designed to help prevent water-related fatalities, illnesses and injuries.

Polk County Fire Rescue’s Public Education section tours the county each year to conduct classroom education to children and adults

  • Safety Smart in the Water!
  • Basic swimming and water safety rules for children from kindergarten to fifth grade. Learn with Timon and Pumba as they prepare to have fun in the water. This class is considered dry land education, no water/swim lessons are involved.
  • The Grandkids are coming to Visit? Are you prepared?
  • This class talks with grandparents about hazards around the home. Discusses how to prepare for grandkids and keep them safe during their visit. Topics include poisons, drowning and others hazards in the home.
  • Hurricane Preparedness
  • This class discusses how residents can prepare their children, pets, family and home for hurricane season and severe weather. A portion of this class also focuses on water safety during storms and power outages, bathtub drownings and other unsupervised post storm activities.

Polk Fire also provides other education material to children and adults, including a water safety brochure and other tips that can be handed out during different public events.

This year, our social media team has also developed Water Safe Wednesdays to provide tips and bring awareness to this very important subject through the county’s Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Fire Rescue also partners with Polk Government Television to produce educational videos to raise awareness.

For more information, or to request our public education staff to attend an event, complete the online form at https://www.polk-county.net/fire-rescue/safety-education-program-request.