In each episode, Eric speaks with someone who works tirelessly to help make the world a little bit safer for children. As you’ll soon see, Scott Fahrney fits this bill perfectly. He is the Program Director of Safety Around Water for the Florida Alliance of YMCAs Foundation. For over 10 years, Scott has been a YMCA leader in communications, membership, and aquatics at Florida YMCAs. Additionally, he has also served on state & national task forces around safety, aquatics, & advocacy. He currently serves as the facilitator of WaterSmart FL, the state drowning prevention task force.
Watch the full interview with Scott Fahrney here:
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This interview with Scott Fahrney is actually our 42nd episode of Child Safety Source. Yes, we’re a bit behind on our show transcripts, but we’re catching up!
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Below is a direct transcript of the Child Safety Source interview with Scott Fahrney from September 17th, 2018:
Episode 42 – Scott Fahrney
Eric Lupton: How is it going?
Scott Fahrney: I love it, it’s great. Everything is going wonderful; how are you?
Eric: Very good. Thank you so much. I like your office by the way, I was going to tell you that. It’s a cool set up.
Scott: Thank you. Yeah, I was kind of a thought in that thought spurred into action. [Crosstalk]. It’s amazing how that happens.
Eric: Right, you think something and then it turns into real life, you know.
Eric: So, what’s going on? You’ve got like a graph behind you and then you’ve written stuff on the wall and then you’ve got post-it notes.
Scott: Yeah, so it is… I like to say it’s a project wall. So, the things that I have to write down before I forget and a lost for eternity. So, it’s a dry erase wall, so…
Eric: No way.
Scott: Yeah, yeah…
Eric: That’s really cool.
Scott: The things that are on the… in the thought pattern but you know can’t get done immediately, get thrown up there and then when I have a free second, I’ll pull a project down and knock it out of the park and keep going.
Eric: Nice. A dry erase wall, even… so there’s an outlet there. So, that outlet is right in the dry erase wall?
Scott: Yeah. So, all it is, is just like a coating….
Eric: It’s like a [inaudble 00:01:18]?
Scott: Yeah. Just goes right over the paint and makes it dry erase and every couple of years you refinish it and redo the wall and everything is just peachy.
Eric: Now I want to a dry erase wall. It’s really cool, it’s a great idea.
Scott: Highly recommended, ten out of ten.
Eric: Yeah. We’ll dry erase again.
Scott: Yes. [Laughs]
Eric: So, what was your plan to begin with and how did you end up with the Y.M.C.A?
Scott: Yeah, absolutely. So, [inaudible 00:01:47] has actually started off as what we call a [inaudible 00:01:51], so like it’s running around you know at seven years old on the Y. I think you might get on the place as you do. So, participated a number of programs and during that was competitive swimming the whole time and really fell in love with the water. And then when I was sixteen it was just right to become a lifeguard and a summer instructor, so I did that and kind of just grew up with the passion. And have always had the Y as part of my life in some capacity, going to college, going to you know, in high school, working for my first full time job; it was always kind of there.
Eric: So, while you were in college, what was your plan?
Scott: So, while I was in college I actually worked full time for the Y. So, I was a branch aquatics coordinator, so I manage lifeguards, swim instructors, a lot of the swim lesson curriculum, a lot of the water aerobics and multiple things like that; kind of more of an operational side of things. And I always thought I wanted to be in of the medical field at some point. So, I thought well, perfect, this is a stepping stool with that. And as college developed and I was like, I really enjoy the medical side of things but I actually really enjoyed public health more. And so, that’s what I ended up going to school for, is to get a degree in public health at the University of Florida and [kobolds]. [Laughing]
And you know, just kind of stem back to that. So, after I graduated there was kind of this lapse of do I want to do this? Do I want to go a different route? And so, I spent a summer to doing a lot of political campaigns; and so worked doing that and building relationships with a lot of the state and local leadership in Pinellas County in the state of Florida. And then decided, I really, really, missed the nonprofit world; so I jumped back into one of our other programs called “Youth in government”. And so it’s basically teaching civic engagement to teenagers anywhere from middle school up to high school; that really interests me and while we were doing that, in ‘2015’, we started this big thought and big idea of trying to come together with all the twenty associations in Florida and really look at water safety as a priority.
And so, getting on that and working a lot with our national office on some of the state drawn water curriculum and some lesson curriculum, everything kind of just fell in line. So, when we finally got some state funding for this; it was just natural for [inaudible 00:04:29] done all this work and it was a perfect fit and I enjoyed water safety and drowning prevention, and so, I fit right in. And had some of the political background and to understand the process and really try to organize and create change. And that’s kind of where the thought process… I know, you’ve talked to both Paula and Liz. That’s kind of the thought process around Waters Smart Florida’s convening this group of people that have like an interest on a statewide level, that can really look at driving change on a longer term.
Eric: That’s really cool. So, how long ago was that?
Scott: So, that’s the… our initiative started in ‘2015’. So, ‘2015’ was really of the year that we came together as you know, you’ve got to think of… because each Y is localized, so Liz’s Y runs on an association level. So, it’s going to run very different than Miami or very different than Jacksonville or things like that. So, a lot of people are doing a phenomenal things in water safety and we didn’t want to take away from that but we did want to be unifying and come together because knowing that we have one curriculum and kind of one purpose and one vision really is a lot more impactful than having multiple things going on. So, we rallied around some of the new curriculum that we’re building, a lot of the community integrated health concept that we’ve taken from diabetes prevention and arthritis management and some of those things and streamline that really focus on water safety.
Eric: That’s really cool. Did the name come down from the Y.M.C.A. or did it percolate from you guys, you know, back up?
Scott: The Water Smart Florida name?
Scott: Yeah. So, it was kind of twofold. So, the Water Smart concepts started down in Broward County…
Eric: That’s what I thought, yeah.
Scott: So, Broward County adopted Water Smart Broward and then from there, when the Y down at Palm Beach County launched some of their initiatives, Liz adopted that. And you know, for us it’s very important that we drop a lot of the branding of local organizations and really adopt something that’s unified and something that doesn’t speak true to one organization or the other, but it’s really streamlined. So, that’s kind of what we did there and it was all in the same hemisphere that our partners of Department of Health, where we’re rebranding from water proof Florida because we know that people can’t be waterproofed, to… they were looking for something and so naturally they adopted the water smart Florida name. And they and we came together in unified the task force under that name as well.
Eric: That’s cool. So, are you and Liz then of the same kind of organization then or is she still Water Smart Palm Beach County?
Scott: she is still Water Smart Palm Beach County; we haven’t really gotten to a point where it’s structured in the fact that water smarts kind of roll up to Water Smart Florida. There’s a number of awesome drowning prevention coalitions across the state of Florida and we don’t really want to mandate nor can we mandate that they change their name. So, really trying to build up what we have and what people are willing to keep going and carry on and carry on that name and seen if it takes hold.
I know Water Smart Martin has kind of started and is working and then there’s a new [Sarasota] coalition. And so, that’s kind of the beauty of this, is that everybody on a local level still has to do the local stuff, right, it can’t just be the state because we know how all that work.
Scott: So, it’s got to be a partnership with the local scene, the resources and the things that they need to a state level, and the state level really trying to focus on using the partners and the networks and the connections to drive change on a statewide level.
Eric: So, what are your plans on a statewide level? I [Paul Demellow] in the comment saying legislation, legislation, legislation. Him and I have a pet peeve for the change to the water safety law in Florida that happened last July, where floating pool arms became allowed as an option, where it was you know the door… well, it was a pool fence with a [self-floating] gate, then they took the gate away and then they said you know the fence you could also have alarms on the doors and windows. And then they said the alarms on the doors and windows could be battery operated and now they say that you can also have a floating pool alarm as an option, which at least with the door alarms…door with no alarms, it was still a prevention, that was still the argument that like, “well, we’re still catching them before they leave the house”, right. But now you’ve got this kind of you know, stop clock scenario where the kids in the pool, you’re waiting for the alarm in the pool to go off because it takes a minute and then you’re racing to get to the pool before the kid drowns. So, what are your plans statewide? Because I know my top priority would be trying to fix that law.
Scott: Yeah, so I think it’s important to first look at the law as it is. As you probably know and as a lot of people know, legislation is very hard, it’s very sticky, it’s very hard to one, get pass through, two to get….
Eric: Well, they had a very easy time changing it to this thing.
Scott: Yes and that’s because they’ve kind of flew under everyone’s radar.
Eric: Yeah, and no one knew that.
Scott: And so…
Eric: I started telling people no one was aware, but it was really a new thing.
Scott: Yeah, and so, it’s kind of one of those things where things can fly through, things can get diluted within other laws and bills and stuff. So, I think it’s really important to look at you know, first off do an assessment. We have to look at what are the things we want to keep? What are the things that we could look at changing? The other thing is looking at if it’s the difference between the legislation or the codes. Administrative codes are a little bit easier to change than a legislation is. Once it’s in statute, it’s very hard to change and dilute and you’ve got to get a lot of traction [inaudible 00:10:26] it. So, I think it’s just kind of doing an assessment right now of what is out there and understanding that this is not going to change overnight. So, although it’s a fairly fresh law, it might be on the last priority that someone has this year, especially coming out of the election year. And so, looking at a lot of what are the things that we can keep? What are the things that we can change? What is the terminology that can be fixed easily? What is the things that might take a little bit of work? Implementation and all of that.
So, I know that there’s been talk most recently on looking at some of the pool codes and some of the law that you’re talking about right now to look at that. Another one that we’re going to look into is the how we track data and potentially making drowning being a reportable disease, which means that both lifeguards E.M.S, the hospital would all have to report on that. Which is a fairly new concept I think Texas and Arizona might have something in place. So, we’re looking into that, looking into a lot of some of the Lifeguard codes and things like that. So, the answer is yes, there is talk about legislation but understanding that it might be a longer process than what we think.
Eric: Yeah, I mean ideally in a perfect universe, we would take the law that California made and just copy and paste that and drop it right into Florida.
Scott: Ideally, if that could only work. We did you know, a bunch of people to slay in promote. So, yes the answer is yeah that is something that we’re looking into, it just might be a little bit… we want to do it right, because once it’s set in stone it’s again, very hard to change. So, we want to make sure that we’re kind of taking in all angles of something before we kind of propose something.
Eric: It’s funny because it’s hard for us to change and I found the same thing, right. But it was really easy for that pool arm guy to float in you know, on the eleventh hour and slip it in there. I feel like we should be able to do the same thing back.
Scott: Absolutely and that could have been easily as timing right. So, if it was the right place, the right time, the right conversation for that to happen and no one to monitor it, that’s the other thing is you know, we don’t have any… when it talks about drowning prevention currently, we don’t really have a lot of people that monitor legislation as it goes through the process right now. So, we are looking at trying to build a lot of you know, with Water Smart Florida, build a lot of those partners that will look into that, and will be constantly monitoring. Because it’s almost a full time job making sure that you know, when something… when wording on a bill changes or gets amended or any of those things that you’re keeping up with that.
Eric: That makes sense. And the tracking stuff is important, like you mentioned. You know we, I think underestimate the number of drownings in Florida and throughout the country. We talk a lot about how if someone passes away a few days or even maybe a couple days after a drowning, some kind of drowning related complication that a lot of the times those fatalities is recorded as something else besides drowning. So, the trying drowning [desk] are probably even higher than we think they are.
Scott: Absolutely, absolutely. And that’s a lot of what we’re been talking about with Water Smart Florida. Right there is a smaller subcommittee that’s actually looking at this and comparing it to Texas and Arizona and seen both things that Texas and Arizona have orchestrated and have worked and things that has not worked. So, making sure that we’re learning from other people as we move forward.
Eric: Yeah, I think it’s a good call. Any thoughts about reaching out to pediatricians? I know that there’s been a lot of talk lately about pediatricians, maybe because of Kerri Morrison’s survey. And how she found that only fifteen percent of parents are briefed on drowning prevention from their pediatrician.
Eric: I think that’s an important thing.
Scott: Yeah, I think you hit on the head. We had originally when we started water smart Florida in December of two thousand and seventeen; so it’s fairly fresh. We had invited American Academy of Pediatrics, specifically the Florida Chapter. And they had some structural changes and so they weren’t able to participate, but we actually just got an email the other day that they are going to send a couple representatives to be part of it and to be part of that conversation. So, I think that that’s definitely very refreshing to have that lens and scope on the on the situation, on the task force to provide that.
Eric: Yeah, that would be cool, because I was really surprised at the number of… the low number of pediatricians that are giving out you know information on what, as you and I know is the number one accidental cause of death for kids under four; you would think that would be the number one thing they would talk about, but for some reason it’s further down the list.
Scott: Yeah, absolutely, absolutely.
Eric: Why do you think that is, that drowning doesn’t get the attention we think it deserves?
Scott: I mean I can… I don’t know if there’s a want to answer to it you know, I can speak from an EMT standpoint, that you know, drowning is very important but when you roll up on a scene it doesn’t always take precedent. You don’t roll up on someone that is having respiratory issues or going into cardiac arrest thinking “oh, was it a drowning?” first. And that’s just because you don’t see it as much as you do cardiac events, or as much as you do other events. So, I think that a lot of that is culture shift, it’s just really looking at how are we training EMTs, and how are we training people in drowning as an issue itself and instead of looking at some of the pieces that go into the larger…you know, instead of looking at the smaller medical pieces that go into the larger drowning instead.
Eric: And what about in the media? Why do you think the media doesn’t latch on to it, like it does other issues that children face?
Scott: I think it’s probably a lot to do with [Royce] and the way that we message drowning. We have so many terms out there and so many different things; the fact that we use near drowning and things like that as opposed to saying people drowned and it was either fatal or non-fatal. The word drown is a catch word, people latch onto it and when those stories published, people latch onto it. And a lot of the times I think that they read near drowning, they are like, oh well it was close, you know, but it wasn’t a fatal incident. So, I think if we’re using that one term, that drowning word and then we’re kind of stemming off if it was fatal or non-fatal. And then also talking about why it’s important? Why is it important to look at some of those incidents, but then also teach from it. A lot of the times we report on it, but we don’t ever say, “Well here is how or here are some tips that can help prevent this”.
Eric: Yeah, I think and we do this a lot when we… so, we have a program called the Save a Life program, where any time there is somebody has a fatal or non-fatal drowning, we donate a pool fence to that home. And we say one of the reasons we do it, is you know, hopefully that donation gets picked up by the media and that’s an opportunity for another pool safety story in the news and one where we’re providing a solution. So, the idea is that you know, hopefully if we donate this, the donation itself is covered by the media and you know, we get an opportunity to you know have a story about why pool safety is important and why pool fence is important. And obviously donating a fence is important itself, but the news aspect is always been half of it.
Scott: Yeah. And I think that… I mean, kudos, that’s a phenomenal program. You know, the other thing is you know, with media it’s all about attention right. So, it’s all about trying to latch on to the next thing and that’s unfortunate, but that’s kind of how it goes. And so, a lot of the things that we can do is come together as a community and as a movement and really do a couple of driving marketing and media campaigns that talk about that one voice, because that’s going to get a lot more attention than kind of [siloing] and doing fifty different stories or trying to get people out a couple of times a year, as opposed to just doing something big and really getting a lot of that attention.
Eric: Yeah, a lot more momentum from one big thing.
Scott: Yeah, absolutely.
Eric: What kind of big thing would you have in mind? What would you do?
Scott: I think it’s got to be a little bit of a multi-tiered approach. So, it’s got be where you can look at all the aspects of drowning supervision, some lessons, you know C.P.R. and then also engaging public officials. So, maybe it stems out as a press conference and that press conference goes into a day of water safety; you know, you bring people up to the Capitol and you bring people in, then you have local press conferences and that kind of it happening all at once. And that building up is known to work you know, that’s kind of how a lot of some of these attention getters are these large media stories happen, is it happens and it kind of spurs. And it really grows and it’s a multi-faceted event, so if the news company is local, they have a local option or state option or this or that or this or that.
Eric: Yeah. So, if you bring [Billy] to capital, that’s one thing and that’s a big event. I guess, that could be a part of it you know.
Scott: I think having a unified voice is going to help, you know what are the three or five or ten things that we’re only going to talk about regardless of your community, nonprofit, your company or anything like that, what are those buzzwords per say, or what are those things that we’re always going to talk about in that message being very unified and very [siloed] to one message.
Eric: Well, I mean the Y.M.C.A. is kind of a national organization, you know really has a good opportunity to provide a unified message.
Eric: Why did they decide to get into water safety?
Scott: I think it’s, you know, it kind of is two- fold, right. So, the first off… the widest sole job is to meet and full-fill the need in the community. And so, we know in Florida, there is a need for water safety. So, for us in Florida that was a no brainer, it makes sense. The Y has a rich history of teaching swim lessons and specifically teaching group lessons and then also kind of some of the more new innovative teaching methods. So, I think having all of those things incoming, in line and in stream, it’s going to help. So, all of that being said, it was kind of for us the right time, the right place, the right conversations, the right champions, both legislatively and back home to really say that yes, this is something that we want to do. And so, for that filling our cause as you know strengthening the local community through Youth Development, Healthy Living, Social Responsibility; drowning hits all three of those areas of focus. We are building youth, by making them safer, we are teaching them a lifelong skill that could then help them be healthy. And then the last one is social responsibility; we’re raising awareness to a problem, but that can get a whole lot of attention.
Eric: Is there any plan to roll out similar programs to other states or do a national program?
Scott: There’s a number of national programs. So, the safety on water program itself is our drowning prevention program, it is specifically water safety lessons in the pool and then a few touch points outside of the pool. Outside of that, Texas is a large mediator of this. So, the Texas alliance of Y.M.C.A, which is similar to what I do, actually is helping moderate convene the Texas drowning prevention coalition. And so, you can start to see that the Y is helping out with that. Arizona is doing some phenomenal things in [Tucson] and in Phoenix; both of the Ys there. So, I think it’s just about traction and getting the attention.
I mean, this is still new work for us as a movement. Florida is one of the pioneers when it comes to looking at drowning outside of just swim lessons, like what is the community integrated approach, the approach that brings everybody together to address the issue.
Eric: Yeah, because you know and I’ve said this before. You know, we have the ADPA, which is great, but we have water safety USA, which is good when they could be in once a year to pick their messaging. But, I think the Y.M.C.A. has a shot at being another really important national group that could really put a lot of weight and energy behind water safety.
Scott: Yeah and I think it’s a powerful message, but I also know that it can’t be done alone. So, we need to ensure that it’s not just the Y, because we won’t get anything done. Making sure that it’s a convener of a multitude of different non-profits and organizations that are coming together to make sure that this happens.
Eric: So, what kind of things do you guys have in the pipeline right now that are coming up?
Scott: So, really interesting, we have a [Hall] call; our first all call. So, we’ve met from water smart Florida since January, was our technical first meeting. And we’ve done a lot of discussions about what water smart looks like, what are the priorities and so we’re going to share a lot of those with anyone in Florida that wants to register.
Eric: What’s an [Hall] call [inaudible 00:24:56]?
Scott: [Hall] call is just you know, anybody that wants to join that’s passionate around on the prevention can join the call. Well kind of give an idea of what the overview of water smart Florida, kind of announce what our priorities and what some of the strategic plan looks like. Then we’ll also look into what’s to comment and what conversations we’ve had. And then open it up for an open forum. So, allow anybody to ask a question of the water smart Florida task force and some of the members there. And then allow them to kind of gather some of that feedback and some of those things right there.
So, I can tell you what’s in the pipeline; you know, obviously we have one goal and it’s to eliminate drowning in the state of Florida. And it’s to looking at children, adults, but also into visitors. So, a lot of the times we forget about being a large…
Eric: Tourism State.
Scott: Tourism population. Yeah, tourism state, right. But we forget about them and we’re finding that a lot of people don’t know about water safety when they come to Florida. But water is a huge part of our culture here and so looking at those things, we’re trying to hit four goals with that. So, the first one is to build up some of the networks. So, we know that a lot of people are doing a lot of great things, but building the network to convene and to really have those conversations about things that are working in different local communities and how people can get connected to have a more powerful message.
So, that’s a big piece of it. I know there are big pieces looking into some of the coding and legislation pieces. A lot of it is education. So, marketing and local delivery of lessons and of partnerships and things like that. So, that’s kind of what’s in the pipeline.
Eric: So, what are you guys thinking for marketing, you know how are you guys going to do it?
Scott: So, right now what we’re doing is collecting kind of the best practices and what a lot of people are doing in our state. So, what are the messages that are being delivered? What are the resources? And pulling all those together. And then from there, we’re going to compare like resources and see if we can get a couple of people to kind of merge resources. So, we have one or two of those resources that can be delivered and it has everybody has a logo and has the water smart Florida logo. We can all gather around that.
Another one is, there’s a P.S.A. that Department of Health is working on in conjunction with us to really try to drive some of the conversations. We have a lot of… we’re looking into capital days potentially and having invitings and people up to Tallahassee to talk about water safety and really advocate there. We are looking into some of the partnerships locally that we can talk with. A lot of the marketing stuff is going to kind of convene and have a conversation at the state level and then try to promote it at a local level. And so, really trying to gather that what we talked about before that one powerful message that is going to kind of always be part of conversation. The other thing is always keeping up with the conversation, reminding people; so, making sure that we’re not just doing it in the month of May or we’re not just doing it right before summer. I mean, water is part of the Florida culture that we’re really trying to pull that together.
Eric: Yeah, it would be cool to see something similar to pool safely, which I’m a big fan of pool safely. They’ve done one of the best jobs and coming up with drowning prevention materials, both the written materials, the videos are phenomenal, and I love all their You Tube videos. It would be cool to have a Florida version of pool safely.
Scott: Yeah. We’re adopting pool safely….
Eric: [Or just use their stuff].
Scott: Yeah. What can we do to enhance what they’re already doing? You know that’s the hard thing, is we don’t want to [crosstalk]…
Eric: Recreate the wheel.
Scott: recreate things. Right. That’s time sensitive and that’s money and things like that, let’s use what other resources we have and really try to hone in on what people are doing well and using those things.
Eric: I have… I don’t know if you’ve seen, if you haven’t, I’ll send it to you; what I considered to be among the best pool safety P S A’s of all time. Pool safely described it as an animated info graphic and people seem to latch onto it. We made it… it’s getting kind of old now, but it still works [inaudible 00:29:44], but I’ll send it to you, it’s good.
Scott: Yeah, please do. Please.
Eric: It’s really cool, it’s on our Facebook, it’s on our website. But, yeah, I had a father who lost a two year old, who I had never met before sent me a message after he saw it and said, if I had seen this video my daughter would be alive. And ever since then…I was always a fan of it, but after that I was like, alright, I need to get this in front of as many eyeballs as possible because if that would have saved his kid, you know, I didn’t get to his kid in time. So, we try to push it really hard now.
Scott: Yeah, I would love to see it, that’s awesome. And then you know, again, to your point; are trying to streamline things and things that are working well, let’s keep them.
Eric: Right. So, in your email, you talked about amplifying our voice and drowning prevention, what are your thoughts and how we do that?
Scott: Yeah. I think it’s shared resources. I think it’s like minded resources. I think it’s doing things on a timely manner and around all multitudes of conversation; local conversations, [inaudible 00:30:49] conversation, engaging with media outlets, engaging with the public officials. You know, the thing is too, is making sure that a lot of the things that we talk about can be done at a local level. A lot of the local… a lot of the rules in Florida, go back to what’s called Home Rule. So, allowing local governments to make policies and create change locally.
So, if it’s looking at something like legislation; what can you do locally too that it’s going to enhance the state? So, if you’re doing it there and getting attention and we’re talking about on a state and getting attention, it’s just going to help each other. So, I think it you know, to me we have to amplify the voice, but we also have to get on the same page before we do that. Because if we have too many voices or too many different messages, then it’s going to get diluted. So, making sure that we’re really taking that network that we talked about creating and picking a couple of things to start off with, and really talking to them and seeing how they work.
Eric: So, what couple of things do you think would be your first?
Scott: So, I think we need to decide what, you know, we know how to prevent drowning, right. We’ve talked about that, but everybody kind of says it different, right. So, some people say supervision first, some people say barriers first, some people say… well, but we know that all of them need to happen, so what’s our documentation or what their messaging around the things that prevent drowning.
I also think that you know, making sure that we are doing P S As and doing press conferences and things like that, that are going to message when… kind of identifying when we need to start messaging. If that works for summer, we know that’s before summer, right before people start getting into the summer thing. But when is that is that? Is that in April? Is that in March? Is that not based on a timeline? Is that based on the weather? So, the second that warmer weather starts hitting, we know that we need to activate our message.
I think all of those things are really going to drive and amplify that message. First off we need to figure out what the message is, and what those things are because we’re all doing great things, but we really need to pick a couple of things first.
Eric: Yeah. I mean, I think the layers of protection thing has been pretty nationally adopted. I like saying this is often as possible, because I think it’s a really cool piece of trivia. That layers of protection originated in ‘1987’ with us. We came up with it in a book we wrote, called “summertime fun, year round danger using layers of protection to protect your pool”. And that was the first time layers of protection was used in writing.
Eric: Which is very cool, because now it’s everywhere, right.
Eric: Yeah, yeah. My dad wrote it, like I said, back in the mid ‘80s’. And it took off, which is… you know, at the time, he did it because the different methodologies were competing. You had the alarm people saying that alarms were the solution, you had the swim instructor saying no, you got to teach kids how to swim, you had the pool fence people saying, no pool fences were it. And instead of trying to compete with everyone, instead of just other pool fence companies, which is what we do now. He said, no you know, you need layers of protection, you need them all. You know, you supervision, you need alarms, you need swim instruction and you know, it’s worked out pretty well from a business side, but also that idea I think has really resonated. And you see it now and pool safely has “simple steps saves lives”, like you said.
Johnny Johnson had, that’s the save for three. Some people just say layers of protection, you know, there’s a few different ways of her approaching it but it’s still kind of all the same idea.
Scott: And just making sure that you know again, even simple words that change can confuse people. And that timeframe, that if it’s not one direct line that everybody adopts, it can get diluted and it can get changed you know. What’s the difference between basic life support and C.P.R? Things like that, like you know, the community may not know what basic life support entails. So, making sure that we’re keeping [share] in mind also making sure that it’s community appropriate.
Eric: Are you planning on doing any advertising on Facebook?
Scott: Yeah. So, because of some of the Social media guidelines from Department of Health, we aren’t going to do a Facebook page per say, but there is going to be a…there is a Facebook network page. So, it’s one of the hidden groups, Facebook groups that people can go and register. It is private, but it is not hidden or secret. So, people can go look for water smart Florida network and join that Facebook page. It’s going to ask you a couple of questions as far as where you’re located in the county, kind of what your messaging is currently and some things like that, to gather that information and that data. But it’s available and that’s where things like the [Hall] call call are going to be… or the [Hall] call meetings that we’re going to have are going to be posted in the [WebEx] for a lot of those things and resources and things like that.
Eric: But, what about public facing marketing through Facebook?
Scott: Yeah, I think we have not done anything for water smart Florida, but I think it’s important to once we get those materials that are branded water smart Florida, or have a multitude of the logos that are integrated in there, is that people in their network share those materials. And so, we have not done anything nor are we going to probably be able to do anything at the time for Water Smart Florida on Facebook, but there is simple things like using hash tag water smart Florida, they’re all going to connect conversation in some of those pieces there.
There is watersmartflorida.org that is going to… it’s kind of getting a revamp, so there are some materials on there. But then they’re going to start talking a little bit more about the partnerships and some of the coalition members and local Drowning Prevention Task Forces and things like that.
Eric: Yeah, because you know we talk about you know preventing drowning at a scalable level, right, where you’re making serious impact. And Facebook currently and Instagram, probably has some of the most underpriced advertising; you know, for seven dollars, you can get in front of a thousand people, which doesn’t exist on T.V, it doesn’t exist in radio, you can’t get that in magazines. It’s probably the cheapest advertising, the most effective advertising you can buy right now and that’s going to go away. I think in the next three or four years when B.M.W and Toyota and Johnson and Johnson realize that no one watches T.V. anymore. And they all move their billions of dollars into Facebook that seven dollars is going to turn into seventy real fast. So, I think there’s a limited opportunity for folks like you and me to get the messaging out really cheaply that’s going to go away the next few years. So, I’m hoping that we see a lot more scalable money put into Facebook advertising focused on water safety while we still can.
Scott: Yeah, absolutely, absolutely.
Eric: And I know that takes funds and resources and the ability to even make a Facebook page, which seems like a credible hurdle.
Scott: Sometimes. Dealing with government, it sometimes get that way.
Eric: Yeah, yeah. But I mean, with government comes real money right, hopefully. And scalable money, you know we’ve got all these organizations that are doing great, but they’re you know raising money, fifty bucks at a time, hundred bucks at a time and you wonder can you do any real serious impact with that kind of infrastructure. It’s hard.
Scott: And I think that’s coming…you know, to your point; everybody getting small pockets of money, if we put it into one big pocket, we got you know, instead of ten dollars, we have a hundred dollars or they have ten thousand dollars or whatever it may be.
Eric: Yeah, I mean combining is nice. But I think even, honestly I think even if you can combine them all, it’s still not you know, what breast cancer would get. It’s still not you know, what the American Red Cross gets. Like you know, real scalable money, I don’t think it’s made it into drowning prevention yet and I was hoping that we’d start with pool safely. And we did a little bit right, when the Virginia [inaudible 00:39:19] passed. That initiative granted one point something million dollars? I forget what it was.
Scott: I think you are right, you’re right, I think one point seven, one point eight.
Eric: I mean, I know [NBPA] got a big chunk of that and they use it to do a bunch of things. But you know that was one time, you know if that was an annual thing… you know, if that happened every year, water safety would be a completely different universe. And you know, I’m not sure how to activate that you know, pool safely grant money phenomenon again, without a secretary of state’s granddaughter drowning. But I wish it didn’t take.
Scott: I think it’s important to looking at pool safely. A lot of the times they’re going to grant to the local or state governments, because that will drive change. So, making sure that you’re partnering up with those entities and applying for that money because you know we know that they’re going to get that money but it’s easier on the on the books for federal government to get money to the state government, they work all the time. It’s a little bit harder to get it to nonprofits and in a little bit more strings to pull. So, what can you do with that and what contracts can you make and partners can create. You know the departments are going to receive the funding and then kind of be the [funnellor] of it, or the sub-grantee to help other people.
Eric: So, I know you’ve got a meeting at ten o’clock. So, I want to make sure you make it to that. Is there anything else you want to let people know before we wrap up?
Scott: That this can’t be done by yourself at all, so please join the Facebook group and please join the conversation around water smart. We know that we can’t do it you know, just with the ten, fifteen organizations that are talking about water safety right now. We can’t do it you know, [siloed]. So, making sure that we really come together and have a conversation about it, to make sure that we do it right, because you know we all might get a couple of [inaudible 00:41:22].
Eric: Perfect. I’m going to go in the group. I am not a member, but I will fix that.
Scott: I’ll make sure I send it to you as well.
Eric: Awesome. Yeah. Well, no one told me. It’s a secret group, how was I supposed to know?
Scott: Yes, yes. And it was again, this is the kind of… it’s still new. So, making sure that… that’s why we’re doing an October cause to really try to get the word out there.
Eric: You should have had a banner that you can hold up with “Water Smart Florida Facebook group”, you know.
Scott: Just put it on my car and drive. [Laughing]
Eric: Yeah, exactly or [inaudible 00:41:49] this interview. You know, you could hold it up for us. [Crosstalk]
Scott: You see this is why you need to be part of the conversation, because you would have given me the idea.
Eric: [Laughing]. And well, that’s why I brought you on this, so that you can tell people. So the water smart Florida Facebook group is called the water smart Florida network Facebook group, right?
Eric: Pretty cool.
Scott: Yeah, absolutely and I’ll make sure I share it out. And the other thing that you can do is go to watersmartflorida.org. I’d say in the next couple of months, there’s going to be a number of different partnerships that are kind of started and things like that, but are all of there.
Eric: Very cool. Well, thank you so much man, I appreciate you coming on.
Scott: Hey, I appreciate you having me and thank you so much for your passion, your dedication and all of that.
Eric: And thank you so much for the whiteboard idea. That is really cool, I’ll be doing that and hopefully [inaudible 00:42:45] can keep on trucking. We’ll change the world through your whiteboard. And try to do what you can do for that law, we need to get that fixed, that really bothers me. And it bothers me that it changed so easily, one direction, but we can’t put it back. So, yeah, we need to fix that. The kids are going to drown, that’s what’s going to happen with the floating pool alarm. And I’m afraid that that’s going to be what it does it, but hopefully not.
Scott: Yes, absolutely. I will be monitoring that, absolutely and will be trying to look at verbiage and words and stuff like that.
Eric: Beautiful. Alright, well have a good one Scott. You take care of yourself.
Scott: You as well. Talk to you later, bye-bye.
Eric: Bye everybody.