By Dave Russell


If Sunday’s family night sponsored by Jackson County Fire and Life Safety at the Roscoe Poteet Pool in Sylva can save just one life, it is worth it, Fire Marshal Michael Forbis said.

The splashing begins at 6:30 p.m. and wraps up at 8:30 p.m.

“The goal of this one is to have some interaction with folks about water safety,” Forbis said. “We’ll get some information out there to families, give families who may not get an opportunity to come to the pool to come out and enjoy a free night.”

Organizers of the event – Jackson County Fire and Life Safety, Safe Kids Jackson County and the American Red Cross – hope to meet some groups they have not reached during their other activities.

“Maybe there are some home-schooled groups that we have not been able to reach that we can get to come to the pool,” he said. “We’re just trying to do anything in the community we can to save a life.”

There will not be food onsite, but drinks will be provided.

“We’ll have giveaways and information there and the American Red Cross has given us some books and safety materials,” he said. “People will have a chance to win a life jacket or gift certificate. Every time we do this we have a cannonball contest. We have fun with that.”

The event is a necessary addition to the Fire and Life Safety crew’s message.

“Drowning is the leading cause of injury-related death for children 1 to 4 years old,” he said. “It’s also the third leading cause of unintentional injury or death among children under 19 years old.”

Safe Kids is an organization usually contained within county fire departments, but in Jackson County the Department of Public Health operates it, he said.

“We work together towards the same goal – the goal is to prevent injuries and fatalities in children,” Forbis said.

Safe Kids Jackson County is a member of Safe Kids Worldwide, a global network of organizations dedicated to preventing accidental injury. The local agency works with local schools, community groups and others to implement child injury prevention programs. Contact them by calling 587-8225 to work with Safe Kids Jackson County on an ongoing safety program.

Jackson County Fire and Life Safety’s mission statement is “To educate our public, thus making a difference in our communities thorough training, prevention and life safety education.”

The group speaks annually in schools, logging more than 1,900 volunteer hours in two weeks to reach over 2,500 students each year. Other outreach includes teaching first aid and offering free child car seat checks.

In 2018, the most recent year statistics are available, there were 918 drowning deaths among those 19 and younger in the U.S., about 18 deaths per week. Boys accounted for 72 percent of the deaths. Those in non-metro areas were at a slightly greater risk of drowning.