CDPHP Collaborative News: Spotlight on Kids Don't Float - June 2014

Alaska Section of Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion

CDPHP Collaborative News

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Kids Don't Float - Kids in Boat

> Kids Don’t Float PFD Loaner Program

> Kids Don’t Float Educational Program

> Kids Don’t Float FAQ’s (pdf)

> Kids Don’t Float Life Jacket Donation Sites

> Kids Don’t Float Community Map

> How to Bring Kids Don’t Float to Your Community (pdf)

> Kids Don’t Float Loaner Board Application

> Kids Don’t Float Facebook Page

> Kids Don’t Float Activity Book (pdf)

> Share a Kids Don’t Float Story

> More Kids Don’t Float Resources

Alaska Kids Don't Float


> Kids Don’t Float Fashion Show

Other Resources

Safe and Healthy Me

> Be Safe



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JUNE 2014

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Spotlight on

Kids Don't Float

EZ in a Kids Don't Float pdf on an Alaskan Dock

The death of a child is made even more tragic when it is preventable. The State of Alaska’s Section of Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion is working with many partners to prevent drowning deaths across Alaska.

In Alaska, drowning was the second leading cause of accidental death for children ages 5-14 in 2006 to 2010 combined.[1] Unfortunately, many of these deaths could have been avoided by the simple act of wearing a life jacket. It is estimated that half of all boating deaths could be prevented with the use of life jackets.[2] Sadly, many Alaska children do not wear personal flotation devices, which increase their risk for tragedy.

Alaska has more than three million lakes, 12,000 rivers, and nearly 34,000 miles of shoreline spread across a total land area of 586,000 square miles — more than that of Texas, California, and Montana combined.[3] Exposure to water and inclement weather, combined with high rates of boat usage, helps account for a 2012 boating fatality rate of 8 times the national average and a drowning rate of 8.9 drowning deaths per 100,000 residents;[4] the national average drowning rate is 2.6 per 100,000.[5]

The original program that established 15 “loaner board” stations in the Kachemak Bay area began in 1996 through a partnership between the State of Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, the Alaska Safe Kids Coalition, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the Homer School District. Due to the success of that pilot program and overwhelming public response, Kids Don’t Float went statewide in 1997. In 2000, the U.S. Coast Guard Office of Boating Safety joined the partnership.

Using staff from existing government departments and promoting the program through established safety coalitions were essential steps in assuring the sustainability and growth of Kids Don’t Float.

What began as a simple idea to put spare life jackets on the local docks near Homer is now a comprehensive statewide drowning prevention initiative. “Kids Don’t Float” has two components: a PFD (personal flotation device) Loaner Board Program that loans youth life jackets free of charge, and the Educational Program, which teaches boating safety in schools.

Since its inception in 1997, both components of the Kids Don’t Float program have grown steadily. As of July 2013, there have been more than 30,000 life jackets supplied to 627 loaner boards in 249 communities around the state and boating safety classes reached the milestone of 100,000 participants.[6]

The Kids Don't Float Program has become a model for safety educators throughout Alaska and the United States. The Kids Don't Float Peer Educator Program was a 2002 regional winner of the National Safe Boating Council's Boating Education Advancement Award and the schools program was the recipient of the National Safe Boating Council’s Boating Safety Youth Program Award in 2009. Kids Don’t Float has now moved beyond Alaska borders with programs started in at least 16 states and in Canada.

Alaska Success Story

At least 24 Alaska children are known to have survived a near-drowning accident because of a Kids Don't Float life jacket. Use of personal flotation devices in Alaska is also on the rise. U.S. Coast Guard observational studies (2001-2010) show steady increases in rates of life jacket usage in children ages 13 and under. The same studies show that Alaska’s wear rate for life jackets is now higher than the national average.[7]


  1. State of Alaska Bureau of Vital Statistics. 10 Leading Causes of Fatal Injuries in Alaska by Age Group, 2006 – 2010.
  2. Cummings P., Mueller B.A., Quan L. Association between wearing a personal flotation device and death by drowning among recreational boaters: a matched cohort analysis of United States Coast Guard data. Injury Prevention 2011; 17:156-159.14.
  3. Benson, Carl. Alaska's Size in Perspective. Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska Fairbanks; 1998.
  4. Strayer H., Lucas D., Hull-Jilly D., Lincoln J. Drowning in Alaska: progress and persistent problems. International Journal of Circumpolar Health 2010; 69:3.
  5. Safe Kids USA. Drowning and Water-Related Safety (Fact Sheet). 2011.
  6. State of Alaska Health & Social Services (website).
  7. State of Alaska Department of Natural Resources, Office of Boating Safety. Alaska’s Boating Safety Dollars at Work. 2009.


Save the Date - Upcoming Events

Learn to teach Tai Chi for Diabetes

Dr. Paul Lam will be leading a two-day workshop teaching Tai Chi Instruction for Diabetes. Two Master Trainers and one Senior Trainer from the Tai Chi for Health Institute will be supporting Dr. Lam.


Alaska Patient Safety Conference

Putting Alaskans First in the Last Frontier

  • When: October 23-24, 2014     
  • Where: BP Energy Center, Anchorage, Alaska
  • Click to learn more>


30th Annual Alaska Native Diabetes Conference

  • When: December 3-5, 2014
  • Where: Hotel Captain Cook in Anchorage, AK
  • Topics that will be covered: Kidney Disease, Obesity Meds, Mindful Eating,  Insulin Pumps, Type 1 Diabetes, Depression, Hot topics in Nutrition, Exercise, Behavior Change and MORE!
  • Click to learn more>


2015 Health Summit

Call for Proposals - Deadline June 30, 2014

  • Call for proposals is open at: Call for Proposals
  • Theme: "Healthy Alaskans: Every Day, Every Community"
  • When: January 27-29, 2015  (Tuesday through Thursday)
  • Where: Hotel Captain Cook, Anchorage Alaska
  • Click to learn more>

Key Section Publications

> CDPHP Strategic Plan: Executive Summary (2012)

> CDPHP Strategic Plan (2012)

> Web of Chronic Disease Infographic (2013)