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Fatal child drownings on the rise in Riverside County

RIVERSIDE, Calif. - In hopes to control the recent increase in child drownings, Riverside County hosted a press conference. At the launch of the Drowning Prevention Campaign, Riverside's Fire Chief John Hawkins explains, "The number of near drownings (22) is parallel to last year. But the number of fatal drownings is up from 5 last year at this time to 7, and we consider that to be a significant difference."

The campaign's vision of increasing awareness and informing ways of averting child drowning combines the effort of over two dozen county departments, and calls for the help of the public as well.

Serena Smith remembers just a few years ago when her son Darnay almost died after falling into a pool. Between tears, she recalls at a family outing her husband, "grabbed all the boxes of food and juice and took them to the table outside the pool area, he turned to his side to offer Darnay a juice, and Darnay was gone." Fortunately Darnay's father saved him with CPR. However, this can happen to any family, and not everyone will be this lucky.

"Drowning is the leading cause of death among children under the age of five, in our country and across California," says Supervisor John Benoit. "We must do a better job protecting our children and we can only do that by engaging the entire community. Drowning is preventable."

Along with spreading the word about the importance of watching over children in water areas (not only pools but bath tubs, lakes, etc.)  Riverside County is also recommending that every person learns CPR, a skill that takes less than one day to learn and can save someone's life.

"There are sidewalk CPR classes available to the public all over everywhere, and the more that people can just learn to push hard and push fast. You know, if it's an adult, push hard: 2 inches compression, look for the chest to rebound, and 100 compression's a minute. Push hard, push fast," informs Hawkins.

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