For Hometown News
ST. LUCIE COUNTY -- St Lucie County Sheriff's Office and children's advocates have launched a campaign to educate parents and caregivers of the dangers children face when left alone, especially as summer vacation approaches.
This year's annual 'Never Leave A Child Unattended' public service campaign is being launched prior to the Fourth of July holiday.
"We are gearing up our annual campaign to coincide with the July 4th weekend," said Don Kryak, who co-founded the campaign with his wife, Amy. "Child safety is a year-round issue, but with kids out of school, the risk of injury or death from being left unattended increases."
The Kryaks launched the campaign in 1993 in the wake of three drownings and five near drownings over a period of a few months. Since then, the annual awareness event has grown and is now supported by a variety of agencies who publicize the dangers of leaving children unattended for even just a few minutes around water, in a vehicle, in a store or at home.
As part of this year's campaign, the St Lucie County Sheriff's Office will be distributing posters, which remind parents of the hazards that can befall unsupervised children, and how quickly deadly accidents can happen.
"A child can move unexpectedly fast when a parent or responsible adult's attentions are divided," said St. Lucie County Sheriff Ken J. Mascara. "As a father, I have seen this firsthand. That's why this awareness campaign is so important. Members of the Sheriff's Citizens Observation Patrol and Crime Prevention Unit will be distributing posters to remind people of how important this is. Also, posters will be available at Sheriff's Office headquarters at 4700 West Midway Road in Fort Pierce."
The annual campaign intensifies each year in the summer, a time of year that brings increased attention to the risk of drowning.
"Supervision of kids is extremely important," said Mr. Kryak. "You can't risk leaving children unattended and unsupervised anywhere near water - not even for a second. Pool alarms, fences or floatation devices are no substitute for direct supervision."
The Kryaks point out the campaign does not only apply to drownings. Hot Florida summers bring an increased risk of children being left unattended in cars.
"Leaving a child unattended in a car is not only unsafe, it's illegal," Mr. Kryak, a former police captain pointed out. "Serious injury and death from heat stroke can occur in a matter of minutes, and child abduction can occur in a matter of just seconds."
While on summer vacation, the Kryaks urge families to check hotel balconies and pools. Families with small children who can fit through balcony railings should asked to be moved to a room without a balcony. Kids should also be familiarized with hotel pool depths and other water risks that may be overlooked.
For more information, call (772) 878-8878.