More Young Children Drown in Florida than Any Other State|
For every child who drowns, four more are hospitalized for near-drowning
TAMPA, Fla. (May 21, 2012) – It’s something most parents think could never happen to their family, but every year in the United States nearly 830 children drown. In Florida, drowning rates for children are more than double the national average and are higher than any other state in the nation. In 2010, Florida lost 74 children under the age of 4 to drowning. Hillsborough County has the 4th highest drowning rate in the state, following Broward, Dade and Palm Beach counties.
“Drowning hits every socio-economic group, every race,” said St. Joseph’s Children’s Advocate Bevin Maynard. “Parents shouldn’t think they because they are well educated or live in a nice house that it can’t happen to them.”
Maynard notes that myths like these can give parents a false sense of safety, and allow kids to be "set up" for danger. Below are some common misconceptions related to drowning and tips on what you can do to help keep your children safe around water.
Myth 1 - Drowning is noisy.
The truth is, drowning victims don’t typically scream and splash when in distress - they often just slip away in silence. Children can drown in seconds, and most drownings happen when a child is left unattended or during a brief lapse in supervision.
Be sure to:
- Actively supervise when children are playing in or near water.
- Designate a “water watcher” to maintain constant watch over children in the pool during gatherings.
- Teach children to never go near or in water without an adult present.
- Remove floats and toys from in and around the pool when not in use. The presence of these toys may encourage children to enter the pool area or lean over the pool and potentially fall in.
- Keep rescue equipment, a telephone and emergency numbers poolside.
- Learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). “Performing CPR on drowning victims immediately – before paramedics arrive – may prevent brain damage and be the difference between life and death,” said Maynard.
Myth 2 - I don't have a pool or live near the water, so my child is safe.
The truth is, there are water hazards in and around every home. “Although most drownings and near-drownings occur in residential swimming pools and in open water sites, children can drown in as little as one inch of water and are therefore at risk of drowning in wading pools, bathtubs, buckets, diaper pails, toilets, spas and hot tubs,” said Maynard.
Be sure to:
- Never leave young children unattended in bathtubs, even for a moment.
- Never leave a young child in the care of older children during bath time.
- Once bath time is over, immediately drain the tub.
- Keep toilet lids closed and use toilet seat locks.
- Keep doors to bathrooms and laundry rooms closed.
- Empty all buckets, containers and wading pools immediately after use. Store them upside-down and out of children’s reach.
Myth 3 – My child is never outside without me, so I don’t need a pool fence.
The truth is, curious children, especially those younger than 4 years old, can easily find a way out of the home and fall into bodies of water like pools, hot tubs and ponds. Often they are discovered too late to save. “Many parents of children who have drowned were shocked to discover that their toddler found a way out of the house,” said Maynard. “In some cases, an older sibling left a door open, in a few others, children who were thought to still be napping were instead discovered in the pool.”
Be sure to:
- Install four-sided isolation fencing, at least 5 feet high, and equipped with self-closing, self-latching gates. Fencing should completely surround swimming pools and prevent direct access from a house or yard.
- Use door alarms, pool alarms and pool covers for an extra layer of protection. However, do not rely on them to keep your kids safe; they should be used in conjunction with fencing and constant supervision.
- Cover and lock hot tubs when not in use.
Myth 4 - My child can’t drown because he’s wearing arm floaties.
The truth is, personal floatation devices aren't approved for safety and won't protect a child from drowning.
Be sure to:
- Never rely on air-filled or foam devices such as water wings, arm floaties, plastic rings, rafts, noodles, etc. to protect a child. These items are toys that can easily slip off their arms or over their head.
- Children should always wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal floatation device when on a boat, near open bodies of water or when participating in water sports.
- Enroll children in swimming lessons taught by qualified instructors when they are ready. Even then, do not assume your child is "drown-proof" - he or she still needs constant supervision.