Learn to Swim & Water Safety

California - Southern California Water Safety Summit - March 6, 2019

On March 6, 2019, 140 water safety advocates and professionals assembled at Marina Park in Newport Beach, CA, for the inaugural Southern California Water Safety Summit, a one-day conference designed to be “a forum for collaboration on practices, programs, and policy that reduce drowning and aquatic injuries in our community.” The summit was co-hosted by the Ben Carlson Memorial and Scholarship Foundation and Hoag Hospital’s Project Wipeout Program, and sponsored by the Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation USA and the John Wayne Cancer Foundation.  

Participants at the Southern California Water Safety Summit came primarily from Orange, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, and San Diego counties. Several people from Kern County and Sacramento also attended, as did multiple people from other states (AZ, WA, ID, UT, NY). Participants also represented a variety of professions involved in water safety: 20% identified as marine safety or ocean lifeguards, 13% as non-profit foundations, 12% as fire department or EMS, 11% as parks and recreation, 8% as education, 6% as nurse or physician, and 5% and under as public health, law enforcement, other government, or other medical/hospital personnel.
The one-day summit featured 25 different speakers, a full agenda of the day can be downloaded here. Keynote speakers included Dr. Coleen Kraft, Immediate Past President of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP); Dr. Justin Sempsrott, Executive Director of Lifeguards Without Borders; and Dr. Linda Quan, Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Washington and former Emergency Department Medical Director at Seattle Children’s Hospital. The Summit also featured sessions on drowning data, programs and interventions to prevent drowning and aquatic injury, open water drowning and safety, and messaging and communications for water safety. Presenters represented a variety of governmental and non-profit agencies including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, The California Department of Public Health, the California Department of Boating and Waterways, and the California Coalition for Child Safety and Health, among others.

Major takeaways from the summit include a strong desire from multiple stakeholders to engage in meaningful discussions on future policy proposals to prevent drowning and aquatic injury, motivation to increase formal or informal statewide collaboration on drowning prevention and water safety, and unified efforts to improve the collection of data at the local and state level to improve drowning prevention and water safety promotion efforts. Of those attendees surveyed, 96% indicated that they would be extremely likely to attend a water safety summit in 2020, if organized.

Photos Eric Hernandez IG: @pacificcoastsurf
- Banners with pictures and stories of California children who have drowned
- Conference Organizers, left to right: William Koon (Hoag Hospital), Jen Fox (BCMSF), John Moore (BCMSF)
- Chris Carlson welcomes the group to Marina Park in Newport Beach
- Dr. Justin Sempsrott presents “Drowning Resuscitation: A Practical Approach”

First-ever Water Safety Summit has one purpose — spreading the message about the dangers of water
Orange County Register