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TREASURE COAST -- The Department of Children and Families urges parents, caregivers and community members to use safe practices and procedures around water.
"Water safety and safe practices are essential in preventing drowning," said Dennis Miles, DCF Southeast Regional Managing Director. "It's important to always supervise children, know how to swim, teach all children to swim, use water safety barriers, know what to do in an emergency and learn CPR. These tools and skills can make a critical difference in saving a child's life and preventing a tragedy."
In Florida, drowning is the leading cause of death among children ages 1-4. The state loses more children under the age of 5 to drowning than any other state in the nation. As swim season approaches, here are some key steps to preventing drowning deaths:
Supervision: A responsible adult should always actively watch children when they are in the pool. Distractions such as using your phone or getting involved in a big conversation should be avoided as drowning can happen in just a few minutes. Designate a "Water Watcher" to keep an eye on swimmers.
Barriers: A child should never enter a pool area unaccompanied by an adult, and Florida law requires barriers for home pools. Barriers should be used to physically block a child from the pool such as child-proof locks on all doors, a pool fence with self-latching and self-closing gates, as well as door and pool alarms. Pool covers should be professionally fitted, as a simple canvas covering can trap a child in the water.
Swimming Lessons: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children ages 4 and older get swimming lessons and parents of children ages 1-3 consider swimming lessons, as studies have shown it reduces drowning incidents. Caregivers should learn to swim as well or designate an adult who can swim to accompany children who are swimming.
Emergency Preparedness: When a child stops breathing there is a small window of time in which resuscitation may occur, but only if someone knows what to do. All Floridians are urged to learn CPR. In an emergency, it is critical to have a phone nearby and immediately call 911.
For more information on safety tips, visit www.myflfamilies.com/watersafety.