A Plea to Texas Lawmakers

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I received a copy of a powerful letter sent to members of the Texas State Senate and Governor Rick Perry.  The Letter is from a reader whose grandson drowned last year.  Shortly after his death, she discovered that her state is one of the few that have no residential pool safety laws regarding access, and she is on a mission:

Her letter is posted here so that other Texas residents can send it in, along with their support, joining Kim in her request that Texas enact legislation to better protect its children from drowning.
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A Plea to Lawmakers:

My name is Kim Southerland Jacinto and I was a grandmother. I’m not anymore. Last year 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.  It was August.  There would be 20 more.

Going through the obvious grief and pain of a loss so dear, my family is doing its best to move on.  But your grandchildren are supposed to bury you, so it has been hard to get past it all. Grief being what it is, and a grandmother’s love being what it is – I’ve been working hard to figure it out and more than that, actually do something.  I know you are very busy, but please bear with me through the hard things I’ve learned over the year since Bryan’s death:

  • 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 2009, the 113 childhood drownings were a state record; eclipsing the average of 70.
  • 2010 is on track to break the record again.
  • Residential pools and spas account for over half those deaths.
  • The State of Texas has no laws governing access control of residential swimming pools.

Where I live in Dallas County, laws require me to obtain a permit to build an addition on my home, to install a home security system,  or to have a garage sale.  I have seen neighbors receive violations for such crimes as parking with the car facing the wrong way; for putting the garbage out too early; for having the grass be too high.  None of these laws “protect” us really.  Sure, they help keep good order and I’m not complaining about the laws we have, but they shed a glaring light on the ones we don’t.

My neighbors can’t have grass that is too long, and have to keep their trash in the garage until trash day, but they can have a wide open deep pool of water in their backyard unguarded and unprotected and they haven’t done anything wrong.

Please know that I am not talking about blame or fault.  Believe me, we have been through and continue to struggle with those awful questions.  My hope, my plea really, is that I can get you to talk about solutions.

The CDC believes that four-sided pool barriers with self-closing and locking devices reduce the chance of drowning by 50-90%.  There are other ways to protect pools and spas that should be discussed as possible solutions.  The State of Florida gives a list of protective measures to homeowners and requires they pick two that work for them.

Last summer, the Texas State Child Fatality Review Team Committee, after extensive study on the subject, published their “Position Statement: Water Safety for Children” and in it had “Recommendations to the State of Texas and the State Legislature.”  I’m begging, please take their advice.  Doing so would align Texas law with laws in other states, and with recommendations from organizations like the CDC, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, experts in water safety around the world, and thousands of grieving parents and grandparents.  Please; you can save lives with a pen.  Pass legislation to require access control for residential pools and spas.

My grandson is gone.  I hope you do all you can to save his friends.

Sincerely,

Kim Southerland Jacinto

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If you’re from Texas, please sign Kim’s petition here.

Voice your support to Texas lawmakers and to Governor Rick Perry.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed by the author are not necessarily those of the Department of Homeland Security or the U.S. Coast Guard.

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By | 2010-10-12T17:16:19+00:00 September 15th, 2010|Leadership, Water Safety|24 Comments

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  • Mandm101301

    I am so sorry for your loss and I fully support your plea to change laws governing pools. If you ever need my vote I would be there.

  • Deniselambert

    Totally agree. Strangely… when I put in my pool… we were required to put alarms on all doors leaving our house that had access to the pool. We also had to put child proof access gates into the backyard. It could go a long way to keeping people safe. Where is the common sense???? So sad for a senseless deatrh. Sorry for your loss and Good Luck!

  • Bryan’s Nana

    Thank you Denise for agreeing, like you it just makes much more sense to be save rather than sorry.. And I must admit, I never even realized it was a issue until it happened to me. I miss my grandson something terrible and my life will never be the same! Now my goal is to try to get something in place so that it does not happen to another precious child or family. I am so praying this works.

  • Bryan’s Nana

    Thanks Mand for your full, let’s pray it works so that another family dont have to endure such a tradegy. Are you from Tx?

  • Jodeeleelee

    Kim There were many times were we were close to losing one of our grand son’s One time was at his first swimming lesson he just jumped in the deep in I Didn’t noticed at first he had left my hand and jumped I reacted so fast and me not know how to swim either But I learned Fast and got to the bottom and got him fast. Wat a scare that was. I can’t imagine what your going through.

  • cindy

    Hello Kim,

    I haven’t talked to you in a while. I am so sorry for your lose. I am behind you 100%. Let me know if there is any thing that I can do

    Cindy

  • Stephanie

    Wow, Kim, awesome. I wonder about the reply??? Please let me know, I am sending this to all of our properties nationwide. Love, your friend, Stephanie Miramontez

  • Budthedesigner

    I am so sorry for your loss. .. We just lost Skyler Ray Bell on July 8, 2010 … (My Great Nephew) and it does happen to offen … and “I’m on a Mission” too …Swimming Pool Awareness … and I fully support changing laws on pools… I’m not from Texas but, getting our messages’ out there and keeping with “OUR MISSION”… hopefully will start with the awareness that everyone needs to know … THIS CAN HAPPEN TO YOU !!! Or to someone close to you … be aware!
    ” I’m on a Mission” too in Indiana … Bud

  • Bryan’s Nana

    Bud, I too am sorry to hear about your great nephew.. and you are so correct when you say we need to keep the awareness going. If there is anything Ican help you with, please dont hesitate to ask. With all of us working as a team, I know we will save the lives of others.

  • Bryan’s Nana

    Steph, So far I have received 3 reponses- 2 from Texas Senators and 1 Govenor Rick Perry, and to answer your question I am not sure what the outcome will be, but regardless my goal is to keep the awareness going. Even if it isnt passed this year, I will continue until mission is completed. As far as you sharing with all your properties, this would be awesome and mean a great deal to me. Thank you.

  • Bryan’s Nana

    Cindy, Thanks for your support and I have just been super busy with working and coming home to do some research. I have so many wonderful people helping me with this great cause. I am next door and should you need me for anything, just call.

  • Bryan’s Nana

    Jodee. I am glad to hear that you reacted so quickly and was able to bring your grandson to safety. What a blessing! Unfortunately this isnt the case for many, and thats why it is so very important that everyone learns how to swim, even if it is learning how to just float calmly on your back..

  • Sativa454

    I don’t know you but have been refferred to these websites by my mother-in-law. I am so sorry for your loss and I know to well what you are going through. I just lost my son who was 2 1/2 yrs old in August of this year to a drowning. The pain is almost unbearable at times and seems so sureal at others. I too would like to spread awearness about how quickly and quietly a drowning can happen. If i cld be of any help in your petition let me know although I do not live in Texas but I have a grandmother who does. God Bless

  • Lisa_and_me2004

    I am not from Texas but I would love to sign the bill for you let me know if any out of state people can sign or do anything else for this cause, I am very sorry about your loss, I lost my son to a static electric fire at a gas station, this defective pumps and no one at the station ect. I am trying to get a bill pasted here to have more and bigger signs and for more inspections at gas stations.

  • Bryan’s Nana

    Thank you Lisa, So much for your interest and willingness to help. To answer your question, everyone is signing basically to show their support, so sign away. If you want to help out you may also please pass this along to all your friends and loved ones so that they too may have the opportunity . I am so sorry to hear about your son and if you need my assistance with anything, please feel free to let me know and I will do what I can to help. I can be found on FB under Kim Southerland Jacinto. I look forward to getting better aquainted with you soon.
    Best Wishes, Kym- Bryan’s Nana

  • Bryan’s Nana

    Just to give everyone a update: Since September 15th, 2010 when I started this letter of Plea .. So far, I have received 1- letter of response from Gov. Rick Perry, 2- State Senators, and 1- State House Representative. I am so grateful for everyone’s love and support for such a great cause. As this is one of the leading causes of death in our Infants and Children. I would also like to encourage you all to please continue in sharing the awareness of teh Dangers of Water and together “We CAN Save Lifes”…

  • Bryan’s Nana

    Thanks everyone for your continued support in such a important matter where the safety of our infants and children are concerned. I really hope that we can make a impact on this issue and make a difference. However, this is not to scare people away from enjoying swimming as a fun summertime activity but to ensure that all safety measures are available to prevent such tradegy. I must say, that I never realized how big of a deal this really was until me and my family were faced with such a live changing experience withy the loss of my first born grandson.

    So far, since I began this process on September 15th, 2010 and even though the Election was not to far behind, I still received 4 letter’s of responses on behalf of this above letter and of course with the help of each of you! My deepest gratitdue goes out to you all for that, because honestly this wouldn’t be possible with you!

    The letter’s of responses received were from
    1- Governor Rick Perry
    2- from Texas State Senators: Dan Patrick & Jane Nelson
    1- from Texas House State Representative Yvonne Nelson

    I have also been invited to attend the opening ceremonies of the 82nd Legislature in Austin Texas which will begin on Tuesday January 11, 2011

    If anyone would be interested in attending to further support this great cause, please contact me soon, my plans out to leave olut of Dallas early Tuesday morning around 5 am to be there and seated by 10 am.

    This is just the beginning of my “mission” and I hope that you all will continue to support me in this effort. Again, Thank you for helping to make a difference and if should this not happen this time around, then I will continue to make my voice heard until something does!

    God Bless each of you and your families,

    Best wishes,
    Kim Jacinto

  • Glendy

    This is the reason I work everyday to get the word out about child drownings….I have taught survival swim & swim lessons all over the USA and Hawaii for over 42 yrs. I work along side the local pediatric group to help get the knowledge out to parents that the is a new pediatric report out lowering the age suggested to start swim instruction from 5yrs to 1 year old!!!!! Let’s save life’s …….teach your kids to swim! Miss Glendy

  • Annie

    It is hard to hear of your loss. I do not live in Texas but share your concerns. I found your “plea to lawmakers” as I was researching articles and information for my blog. For years now, I have wanted to help educate people, make them more aware of the drownings that happen every year. I want to help lower that number. My prays are with you and your crusade. lmprater-annie.blogspot.com