Two SMCHS students raise water safety awareness

Original article found in the Orange County Register by KRISTY CHU.
June 18, 2010

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RANCHO SANTA MARGARITA – Mark the calendars. The efforts of twin sisters Meghan and Shannon Maloney have prompted city officials to proclaim June 23 as Water Safety Awareness Day.

The Santa Margarita Catholic High students, 16, established the Swim For Life Club at the school, a campus club that promotes water safety, raises awareness about childhood drowning and supports the not-for-profit Swim For Life Foundation based in Tustin.

The Maloney sisters are advocates of the foundation's program Safer3, a multi-layered approach to reducing accidental drowning. Safer3 incorporates three components: safer water, safer kids and safer response.

Foundation president and founder Johnny Johnson commended the girls on their efforts and their advocacy of Safer3 and swimming safety.

"The efforts they've put into what we're doing here is just beyond what you'd expect to see from the typical high school student," Johnson said. "It's just so neat to see those young girls who have embraced the concept and are able to disseminate the information so eloquently and effectively within their community."

Drowning is the leading cause of accidental death for children ages 5 and under, and the second-leading cause of for children ages 14 and under, according to Those statistics prompted Meghan and Shannon to begin their mission to spread awareness.

"Studies have shown that children drown during routine household activities, even with adults present," Shannon Maloney said in a news release. "My sister and I want to prevent as many drownings as possible."

Water safety tips from the foundation include:
•Make sure children know how to swim starting by age 4, or as soon as they are able.
•Never leave children unsupervised in or around water, not for a second. Teach them to never swim alone, to use the buddy system, and to swim only in areas designated for swimming.
•Designate a responsible adult to watch young children around pools, hot tubs, bathtubs, toilets and even buckets.
•For homes with pools, install alarms on all doors and windows that lead to the pool. Use self-closing, self-latching gates or doors with latches that children can't reach and that open outwardly. Install a four-sided isolation pool fence at least 4 feet tall that separates the house and play area of the yard from the pool area.
•Learn CPR. Know what to do in an emergency.
•Never dive into water when the depth is unknown. Water should be at least 9 feet deep.
•For boaters and anglers, wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets. Inflatable life vests or belt packs are available that are more comfortable to wear. When heading offshore, be aware of weather conditions and the forecast, and keep an emergency beacon on board.
•Riptides can be a danger while swimming at a beach. The Red Cross advises swimmers to stay calm, don't fight the current, and swim parallel to shore until free of the current. Draw attention by waving and calling for help.
•Avoid drinking alcohol before or during swimming, boating or water skiing.