PUT DOWN YOUR PHONE: Stew Leonard III Water Safety Foundation's Tips for a Safer Summer at the Pool and Beach


Put Down Your Phone: Stew Leonard III Water Safety Foundation’s Tips for a Safer Summer at the Pool and Beach


May 16 2019, Norwalk, Conn. – As Memorial Day weekend shepherds in the unofficial start to summer, Kim and Stew Leonard Jr. are urging parents to put down their smart phones and designate a water watcher when children are around pools and at the beach.  According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drowning is the leading cause of injury death in children aged 1-4 and a lapse in supervision is one of the top risk factors.


“When Stew and I lost our 21-month-old son Stewie in a drowning accident in 1989, it was due to a momentary lapse in supervision – not a lack in supervision,” says Kim Leonard, co-founder of Stew Leonard III Water Safety Foundation.  “Today, parents have more distractions than ever because of our smart phones.  We hope that parents, grandparents, and caregivers put away their smart phones while enjoying a visit to the pool or beach this summer and keep their eyes on their children at all times.”


The Leonards recommend three ways that families can help lower the risk of a child drowning this summer:


DESIGNATE a Water Watcher

Nine out of ten drownings occur when a caregiver is supervising but not paying attention.  However, drowning is preventable when an adult commits to being a water watcher and never leaving children unattended.  The water watcher should avoid talking on the phone, refrain from using their smart phone, and be within arm’s length of young children or inexperienced swimmers.  Adults can take turns being the water watcher, however they must not leave the water area without first finding an adult to replace them.


LEARN to Swim

Children who take swim lessons are 88% less likely to drown than children who do not.  The American Red Cross estimates that nearly all parents (94%) expect that their children will engage in some sort of water activity.  However, nearly 61% of these parents report that their child cannot demonstrate all five basic skills that could save their lives in the water.  While swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning in children, the Leonards also recommend talking to children about never going near the water without an adult present as well wearing a U.S. Coast Guard Approved life jacket, such as a Stearns Puddle Jumper Kids Life Jacket.


SING Don't Jump In Til You Learn to Swim

In addition to their Stewie the Duck Learns to Swim book, the Leonards also recently published the Swim Time with Stewie the Duck board book, which is geared towards children under the age of three.  Using bright, bold colors and easy to understand language, Stewie guides children through his three water safety rules, ending with his signature Don't Jump In Til You Learn to Swim song, set to the tune of the classic Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.  Both books are available for purchase at all Stew Leonard’s locations and online at www.StewLeonardsGifts.com.  The Stewie the Duck Learns to Swim mobile book app can also be downloaded for free through Amazon, Google Play, and iTunes.  All proceeds benefit Stew Leonard III Water Safety Foundation. 


Stewie the Duck Learns to Swim is a proven water safety awareness tool.  It is used to support drowning prevention and water safety programs by fire departments, children’s hospitals, and police stations throughout the nation, especially in parts of our country where swimming pools never close for the winter.  For example, in Rialto, California, the Rialto Fire Department forged a drowning prevention partnership in 2007 with Rialto Unified School District; the fire department visits first grade classrooms throughout 19 elementary schools to discuss water safety. An average of 20,000 first graders are exposed to Stewie the Duck’s message of “don’t jump in ‘til you learn to swim” every May and the program’s success has been remarkable.  “Since we began a decade ago, no child going through this program has drowned,” notes Matt Payne, the Rialto firefighter paramedic who spearheads the drowning prevention program.


For additional information on Stewie the Duck products, Stew Leonard III Water Safety Foundation and Stew Leonard’s group of farm fresh food stores, please contact:

Meghan Bell / Mbell@stewleonards.com / 203.750.6107


Follow Stewie the Duck on Facebook.com/StewLeonardIIIChildrensCharities, Twitter.com/StewieTheDuck, and Instagram.com/StewieTheDuck


About Stew Leonard III Water Safety Foundation

On January 1, 1989, a 21-month old toddler lost his life in a drowning accident.  This sparked his parents to pledge that they would do everything in their power to prevent this tragedy from striking other families, since drowning is the leading cause of accidental death in children under five.  In 1990, that toddler’s parents, Kim and Stew Leonard, founded the Stew Leonard III Water Safety Foundation in memory of their son. Since this time, the Foundation has raised more than $2 million dollars to go towards water safety awareness and education, including providing swim scholarships and lifeguard training, along with writing and publishing two children’s books on water safety and a mobile game and free water safety app available on iTunes, Amazon Kindle HD and Google Play.  For more information, please visit www.stewietheduck.org.

#             #             #


Doreen Miner