Florida hit a grim record last year for the number of child drowning deaths. May marks national water swim safety month, and as we head into the summer, there are some precautionary measures parents should keep in mind.
The Florida Department of Children and Families says more children in Florida under the age of five died from drowning than in any other state.
In 2021, Florida reported the most child drownings in the last 12 years, increasing nearly 30%.
Going into the summer swim season, it’s important to keep basic safety tips in mind. Ensure an adult is constantly watching your child, have your kids take early swim lessons, CPR, and purchase pool fences.
Your community might also have bodies of water that aren’t fenced off since there are no laws requiring fencing around ponds, lakes, or canals.
Michael Haggard, a managing partner with Hagrid Law Firm, recommends homeowners talk with their HOA about their concerns.
“Get a group of parents together because there’s nothing as safe as having that barrier around the water. If they won’t do it, you really should be putting alarms on your doors, pool alarms that basically when you open a sliding glass door. It beeps continuously until you turn it off. And that way, you know if somebody has opened that door,” said Haggard.
With the population growing and more people vacationing here, many are not as familiar with water, but drownings can also occur inside the home. Bathtubs, buckets, and toilet bowls were all causes of drowning in 2021.
The National Drowning Prevention Alliance said to never leave a child under four alone in the tub or near a running bath. They recommend you empty any bucket of water after you are done with it because a curious toddler could fall headfirst and not be able to get out. Also, keep your toilet cover down, and the bathroom door closed at all times.
“Parents have to really double down on supervision at this time. Or if you’re just a guardian that has a child with you, you’ve got to make sure that when they are near, around the water that you are away from your phone, that you are being vigilant watching your children,” said Haggard.
It’s also crucial for parents who live near lakes, ponds, and canals to keep a close eye on their children since fences do not surround those areas.
Experts also encourage parents to get their kids involved in swimming classes to help reduce the risk of drowning.