A 2-year-old boy wanders into a Pembroke Pines pool area and drowns during a Fourth of July party.
A 3-year-old boy drowns in a Key Colony Beach canal mere moments after his family arrived from Georgia for a Florida Keys vacation.
A 2-year-old girl is found at the bottom of a Miami Gardens pool. It didn’t have a security fence.
These are three of 51 fatal child drownings in Florida pools or spas in 2017, a 20 percent spike compared to 2016 when there were 40 fatal child drownings in the state. With pools, lakes and year-round swimming weather, Florida easily tops northern states.
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According to figures released by the USA Swimming Foundation on Tuesday, Florida again leads the nation as the state with the most child drownings in 2017. The drownings last year involved children 15 and younger, with 80 percent involving children under the age of 5. Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death in children ages 1-4 nationwide.
Behind Florida at No. 1, the top five states for child pool/spa drownings in 2017 are Arizona and Texas with 25; California with 20 and Georgia at 12. Nationwide there were 269 media reported fatal drownings in 2017 for children under age 15 in a swimming pool or spa, according to the foundation’s report.
What to do?
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Pool Safely campaign urges Florida families to enroll their children in learn-to-swim programs, learn CPR and be diligent in watching children at pools and spas and other bodies of water. Here are some of their steps to stay safer when spending time in or near the water in 2018:
▪ Never leave a child unattended in a pool or spa and always watch your children closely around all bodies of water.
▪ Designate a water watcher to supervise children in the pool or spa. This person could be a lifeguard or adult family member and should not be reading, using a smart phone or be otherwise distracted.
▪ Learn how to swim, and teach your child how to swim.
▪ Learn how to perform CPR on children and adults.
▪ Keep children away from pool drains, pipes and other openings to avoid entrapment.
▪ Ensure any pool and spa you use has drain covers that comply with federal safety standards, and if you do not know, ask your pool service provider about safe drain covers and ask your public pool if their drains are “VGB compliant.”
▪ Take the Pool Safely Pledge before spending time in or near the water this year. This online pledge basically has you read through the above tips and vow to heed them any time you or your child come into contact with a body of water.
Note: No child is ever water safe, USA Swimming Foundation says. The goal of swim lessons is to make children safer in, on, and around water. Avoid any program that promises to “drown proof” your child. This false guarantee can lead to false security.
According to the foundation, 79 percent of children in households with incomes less than $50,000 have little-to-no swimming ability.
Research shows that 64 percent of African-American, 45 percent of Hispanic and 40 percent of white children have little to no swimming ability. Ten people drown each day in the United States.
Formal swimming lessons reduce the likelihood of childhood drowning by 88 percent, according to the foundation.