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Evaluation of a drowning prevention campaign in King County, Washington
  1. Elizabeth Bennett1,
  2. Peter Cummings2,
  3. Linda Quan3,
  4. Frances Marcus Lewis4
  1. 1Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center, Seattle
  2. 2University of Washington, Seattle: Department of Epidemiology
  3. 3Department of Pediatrics
  4. 4Department of Family and Child Nursing
  1. Correspondence to:
 Elizabeth Bennett, Health Education, CM-09, Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center, 4800 Sandpoint Way NE, Seattle, WA 98105, USA.


Objectives—A three year drowning prevention campaign focused on increasing the use of life vests among children 1–14 years old. An evaluation was conducted to determine campaign awareness, change in ownership and use of life vests by children, and predictors of life vest use.

Setting—King County, Washington.

Methods—Four telephone surveys were conducted with parents before, during, and after the campaign.

Results—The campaign was recalled by 50% of families surveyed. From before to after the campaign, reported life vest use by children on docks, beaches, or at pools increased from 20% to 29% (p<0.01) and life vest ownership for children increased from 69% to 75% (p=0.06). Among parents aware of the campaign, reported child life vest use increased from 20% to 34% (p<0.001) and ownership increased from 69% to 80% (p<0.01). Among families unaware of the campaign, neither life vest use nor ownership changed significantly. Children were more often reported to wear life vests if a parent knew of the campaign, was confident fitting the vest, was younger than 40 years, felt the child could not swim well, and owned a life vest for the child.

Conclusions—A community-wide drowning prevention campaign resulted in a significant, although modest, increase in reported life vest use and ownership among children.

  • drowning
  • injury prevention campaign

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