My name is Kim Southerland Jacinto and I was a grandmother. I'm not anymore. In 2009, my two-year-old grandson, Bryan, wandered next door - through an unlocked front gate and into the neighbors pool. After a desperate search he was found too late. He was the 93rd childhood drowning victim in Texas that year. It was only August and there would be 20 more drowning deaths.
I need your help to get Texas legislators to pass a law requiring access control to residential pools and spas, and in return saving hundreds of kids each year from drowning.
A Plea to Lawmakers:
I am Kim Southerland Jacinto and I was a grandmother. On August 25, 2009, my two-year-old grandson, Bryan, wandered next door, through an unlocked front gate, and into the neighbor’s pool. After a desperate search he was found too late; the 93rd childhood drowning victim in Texas in 2009. In 2009, the 113 childhood drowning’s were a state high.
Going through the obvious grief and pain of a loss so dear, our family is doing its best to not let Bryan’s death be in vain. My grandmother’s love for my grandson has compelled me to work as hard as I can to get Bryan’s Law on the books and real changes made to the law that will save other families from this type of tragedy.
Some of the hardest facts I have had to learn since his death include these:
· Drowning is the leading cause of death for Children under six years old in Texas.
· For every child that dies from drowning, another four are hospitalized for aquatic injury – some never fully recover.
· In 2010, 78 children drowned in Texas (read June 29th Press release)
· In 2011, 90 reported drowning’s as of October 25th.
· And so far, as of July 13, 2012, there have been 45 childhood drownings.
· Residential pools and spas account for over half of these deaths.
· The State of Texas has no laws governing access control of residential swimming pools.
We have laws requiring child safety seats and seat belts in vehicles, we have DWI laws to prevent drunk driving, and we are beginning to see laws about texting while driving. All of these laws help save lives. Local ordinances require a permit for building additions to homes, they fine us for high weeds, trash on the curb before pickup day, and vehicles that are parked the wrong direction on a street. It makes complete sense that we would add protective measures in the form of a law for homeowners who have residential pools and spas. The protective measures will cost less than the price of a lawsuit over the accidental drowning of a child in their unprotected pool. Something as simple as a separate fence around the pool area or alarms on doors and windows leading to the pool area or safety latches on gates leading to the pool area, would be enough to save children from drowning. Are children who drown less important than those who ride in vehicles? No, they are just as important.
Please know that I am not talking about blame or fault. Believe me, we continue to struggle with those awful questions. This plea is to get our law makers to talk about real solutions to the drowning deaths that occur in Texas. Texas is the 2nd leading state, just behind Florida, in the number of drownings that occur annually.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention believe that four-sided pool barriers with self-closing and locking devices reduce the chances of drowning by 50 to 90 percent. The State of Florida has published protective measures to homeowners and their law requires that each property owner pick two from the list that work for protective measures to safeguard open water. Florida’s measures should be reviewed as a means to understand how Texas can incorporate safety measures for our own children.
In 2008, the Texas State Child Fatality Review Team Committee published a public statement on their website that included recommendations to the State of Texas and the State Legislature. A copy of this public statement is attached. Those recommendations should be reviewed and taken to the discussion table regarding safety measures for pools and spas.
How many more children do we need to have drown in unprotected areas of open water before Texas says, “This is enough.”
As of July 13, 2012, there have been 45 children already lost to drowning in Texas.
The Legislature has the power to pass “Bryan’s Law” to help prevent others from losing a child to drowning. Change our laws and protect our children. No child’s life is worth the lack of protective measures.
My grandson is gone. I hope you do all you can to save his friends. When the Legislature begins to talk about this plea I have sent, I would like to request the law be named “Bryan’s Law” in honor of my grandson, Bryan Boykin.
Kim Southerland Jacinto