The Return of The Fanny Pack

2 Jun

Wear It Florida.

Originally uploaded by CleverGirlBek

Wear what?

Fanny packs?

I’m glad to see my mother is up on this. She hasn’t stopped wearing hers since she hit 58 a decade ago. It’s her dog walking gear bag. Handily manages the poo bags, her mile long Virginia Slims, a lighter and the keys to all of the gates in the fortress…er…gated community,she lives in… I’m glad the State of Florida has launched this initiative.

Perhaps the fanny pack campaign will spread far and wide- Click It or Ticket seems to touch many states, perhaps Wear It Florida will do the same. People everywhere will be buckling up their fanny packs and their seat belts. Movie stars will be spotted at shmancy red carpet events and instead of “Who are you wearing?” and a toe to crown pan the lenses will zoom in on those belted bags of glorious hands free convenience.

In all seriousness, I have seen the commercials. Florida has launched a campaign to promote boating safety through the wearing of life jackets.

Anyone who is around boats and boat supplies probably knows that the little “fanny pack” depicted in the logo is actually one of those fancy and convenient self-inflating flotation devices. Basically, they inflate when you hit the water.  The majority of self-inflating pfd’s have the familiar look of more traditional personal flotation devices but without the bulk.  Only a few are “pouches” that look like the ones in the logo. So which graphic would have taught more on glance? Fanny pack or traditional life jacket shape? (maybe a bright orange to depict “safety”?   just an idea…)

I did a little research… Turns out that in 2007 there were 77 boat related fatalities. 70% of the accidents occurred in situations, if I am understanding this correctly, where the operator of the boat did not have formal boating and water safety training.

Here is what I am finding very interesting…

Boat operators under the age of 21, in Florida, are required to have a boating education card (signifying that they have completed boat/water safety courses…courses are even available online).

According to the report available from Florida Fish and Wildlife (http://myfwc.com/law/boating/) 51% of the folks who perished in boating accidents/mishaps drowned. That is (rounding down) 39 people in 2007. The rest died from “trauma” or “other”….

Interestingly, in these fatal incidents, 87% of the operators were over 21 years old. (to balance that 19% of the operators were in the 21-35 age bracket and theoretically would have been under 21 and would have been required to have completed a safety education course as the act to require that of the under 21 crowd was put into play in 1996. Note that this still leaves 68% of operators in fatal boating accidents in Florida in 2007 as not required to have completed a boating safety course. By the way, the under 21 crowd only accounts for 13% of fatal boating incidents in 2007. (Numbers not adding up? 1% did not have ages reported)

So, 39 people drowned in boating incidents in 2007.

I assumed, with the amount of advertising the Wear It campaign has been sucking up, that the number would be much higher.

So why do I care? Well, I found the fanny pack thing funny. I know what it is, but I’m betting that if you showed that logo to anyone who is not already boat and water safety savvy they will probably guess it’s that fashion icon of the 1980’s- the “waist bag”…

Now, if 70% of accidents occurred on boats where the operator had no formal safety education, then couldn’t we assume that those 70% might not know about the inflatable flotation devices and that they might, on a logo, look like a fanny pack? Especially if the folks are not year round water/boat folks, I don’t see how this logo is going to create any recognition for water safety in the audience that needs to be getting this information and getting it now. However, any Florida-based manufacturers of fanny pack souvenirs may want to hop aboard this campaign.

Anyway, the other day I was looking for some Florida agency issued water and pool safety printables- bookmarks, stickers, anything at all to add to the goody bags for the last day of preschool. I found tons of information on child drownings in Florida and safety suggestions for parents and caregivers to implement, but I found nothing geared for kids. I found printables from states that are not even in the “top 10” drowning states… Perhaps this sort of thing is available in person and not online…One thing I have noticed since moving here is not that much information regarding our state, state offices, and procedures is available online, or at least not easily located or interpretable.

In 2001-2005 an average of 73 kids 0-4 years old died, per year, by unintentional drowning (yes, they specify unintentional.)

In all ages groups an average of 465 people died in unintentional drownings every year between 2001-2005 (which was the last year they published the report). 7% of the total drownings were boating related. 61% occurred in pools or natural water (27% are reported as “other”, 5% were bathtub related).

67% of drowning deaths were in people ages 25+

71%of cases (in 0-4 year old drownings)accessed the pool through a door leading from the home to the pool area. And there really has not been much of a drop in swimming pool related, unintentional drownings in the 0-4 age group since the October 2000 application of the Pool Barrier Law. This tells me that not only are people not using enough layers of security around their pools for whatever reason (expense? aesthetic? there can be many reasons, obviously none of them valid when we are talking about the life of a child, but for what reasons are these layers of safety being breached or not created at all? this definitely warrants further investigation, in my opinion… I think if accidents are happening because of minor oversights, then how can all of us work together to fix those oversights…), it also suggests to me that kids are not being taught rules regarding safety early enough. My kid knows that he cannot leave this house or his grandparents house- and I mean the actual four walls of the house- unless he is holding the hand of one of his parents or grandparents. I believe educating him about this from early on has helped stave off many potential tragedies. I do not believe that any of us are invincible, but keeping him as safe as he can-when he is in sight and out of my sight (by educating him) is my top priority. He cannot experience the joys of life, he will not have the chance to reach his potential, if I do not do my job in teaching him safety. I also was unaware of some of the things that happen when someone drowns- I did not realize that drowning is typically silent. That usually nobody hears a splash of a child falling in the pool. Once I learned that I tightened security. Perhaps if more people knew that they would realize that the minute where they run inside to turn off the kettle or grab the phone is one minute too long….

And the literature available regarding child safety and water is geared at parents- it should also be geared at kids. In a parallel, adults may know plenty about keeping our kids safe in regards to strangers, but unless kids are taught the rules regarding strangers and safety, our knowledge is only as good as our eyesight and as far as the nearest wall or door. It needs to be the same with water safety. It isn’t a complete fix, but education of everyone, might help the numbers some.

Another thing that we are terribly aware of in our family is that adults do drown. We have experienced this tragedy in our family, not too long ago, and I have read about it in our city at least twice since the new year. These adults had one major thing in common. They were swimming alone.

Nobody should swim alone. NOBODY. Perhaps many of these drownings and near drownings (which number over 1000 on average, per year, in Florida) could have been prevented and lives saved if people of all ages would learn and follow this rule.

Perhaps if the State of Florida would take the advertising dollars spent on the potential prevention of the loss of 40 lives each year and spent even just a portion of the time and energy on educating adults and children on the dangers of swimming alone, then perhaps a real dent would be made in these numbers. Potentially, hundreds of lives would be saved each year.

Fanny packs* are just not going to save lives.

*and for the record I understand that the self-inflating devices are more comfortable to wear when on a vessel and more likely to be worn. Detailing that as an option for boaters would be smart, but on a logo it’s not reaching the folks who aren’t educated on the types of safety equipment available in the first place)….

Helpful links:

Florida Fish and Wildlife Boater Education information:
http://www.myfwc.com/boating/safety/
(they have links and more information on online courses that are available at no cost)

Florida Boating Accident Statistics:
http://myfwc.com/law/boating/

Epidemiology of Unintentional Drownings in Florida, 2001-2005
http://www.hillscountyhealth.org/healthpromo/pdf/drowning_report-Florida_2001-2005.pdf

Wear It Florida

http://www.wearitflorida.com

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2 Responses to “The Return of The Fanny Pack”

  1. mary a. kaufman June 29, 2008 at 5:10 pm #

    Seems a bit strange: this is my first visit to your blog after coming from another where I added a safety tip of my own in way of a comment. Sometime back in the fifties, my oldest daughter, about seventeen, and I entered the ocean at wildwood, New Jersey only to find ourselves caught in a rip tide. I don’t know to this day how I knew what to do in such a situation, but I called to her to get her feet up and swim with the shoreline. We walked safely to shore about an eighth of a mile from where we entered the water.

  2. beclever July 20, 2008 at 3:52 pm #

    Thanks Mary! I agree- rip tides are scary and can be deadly… Knowledge is power….

    Wikipedia.org has lots of info on rip tides (as I’m sure many life saving and safety organizations do as well…)

    Here’s a quick snippet:
    Surviving an encounter with a rip current

    When caught in a rip current, one should not fight it. Rather, swim parallel to the shoreline in order to leave it, as rip currents are generally only 30 to 100 feet wide, thus swimming out of one via swimming parallel would only take a few moments. If you see a person caught in one, yell at them to do so. Floating until the current disperses into deeper waters is another method of surviving such a dangerous incident, but it may leave the swimmer farther out from shore, and so isn’t the recommended solution.

    [edit] Safety tips

    Posted warnings, where available, should always be heeded. It is advisable to stay at least 30 m (100 feet) away from piers and jetties, which impede waves, encouraging rip currents to form. Also, check the local newspaper and internet for tide timetables. (Beware that tides can be substantially different at beaches relatively close to each other.) Never go into the water without lifeguard supervision from two hours before to four hours after the daily maximum low tide, especially at night. Always swim with a friend and follow all lifeguard warnings or signage.

    Here’s the link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rip_current

    Above all- nobody should ever swim alone.

    My next safety bit will probably be on summer storms…Way too many folks out in the pool while the thunder is a rumblin’…. Way too dangerous. (but hey, at least they aren’t swimming alone!)

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