For Hometown news
TREASURE COAST -
Florida loses more children under age 5 to drowning every year than any other state in the nation.
Hundreds more experience near-drowning tragedies that can cause permanent health problems and developmental delay.
The Department of Children and Families investigates accidental drownings to determine if neglect was a factor. In all cases, drowning is preventable. Children do not drown when someone is dedicated to watching them.
"Parents and caregivers should remember that nothing is more important than keeping your eyes on a child in the water," said David Wilkins, DCF secretary. "A child can drown in less than 5 minutes."
DCF and the Department of Health are partnering to prevent drownings and save children's lives. About 5,000 books that teach children how to be safe around water are being distributed to children at safety events this summer, and more than 20,000 brochures with tips on drowning prevention are being handed out to parents and other caregivers.
Unintentional drowning is the leading cause of death for children under age 4 in Florida. More than two-thirds of these deaths occurred in swimming pools. However, drownings also occur in canals, the ocean, bathtubs, toilets and buckets of water.
Young children can drown in less than 2 inches of water and in less than 5 minutes, the time it takes to use the restroom or answer a telephone. Many parents have only left their child alone for a few minutes before drowning.
"I urge Floridians and visitors to supervise children closely and keep toddlers within arms reach at swimming pools," said John Armstrong, Florida's surgeon general.
"Pool safety is everyone's responsibility across layers of protection, which include supervision, barriers (such as alarms on doors, pool fences and locking gates), and readiness to call 911 in case of emergency."
Follow the water safety tips below and never, ever leave a child unattended in or near any water.
. Install fencing and other barriers around pools and check regularly to make sure they are working properly.
. Make sure doors have alarms and child-proof locks.
. Adults should learn to swim and also teach their children how to swim. Children from non-swimming households are eight times more likely to be at risk of drowning.
. Remove toys, especially riding toys, away from the pool area. Children can fall off of riding tools like bicycles and into the water.
. Never allow a child to be around any water unsupervised. That includes bathtubs, buckets, ponds, ditches, canals, pools, rivers, oceans, hot tubs and more.
. If there are multiple adults watching children in the pool, designate one adult at a time as the official "water watcher," to keep a constant eye on the children.
. Never allow a child to supervise another child near or in water.
. Make sure children stay away from pool drains.
. Learn first aid and CPR for children to use in the case of an emergency.
For more information on water safety and to print free "water watcher" tags, visit www.waterprooffl.com.