Florida leads the nation in drowning fatalities, with most of the victims being below the age of 5, according to research released by the USA Swimming Foundation in early 2018.
It isn't hard to figure out that a state like Florida, with its temperate climate and abundance of pools, lakes and oceanfront, lost more kids to drowning than any other state. Spending time in the water, especially during the sweltering heat of summer, is a favorite activity of residents and visitors alike.
Sadly, unintentional drowning deaths is the leading killer of kids aged 1 – 4 in the country. In 2017, there were 51 child drowning fatalities in pools or spas in Florida, which was 20% more than in 2016. Research has also indicated that many kids simply do not know how to swim. Statistics show that 64% of African American kids, 45% of Hispanic kids and 40% of white kids under the age of 15 do not have adequate swimming ability.
Here are some other facts and stats about Florida drowning injuries and fatalities:
- Kids aged 5 or below were most likely to drown in a swimming pool
- Kids aged 5 to 9 years old were most likely to drown in an open/natural body of water
- 27% of drowning victims aged 10 or older drowned in open/natural body of water, and 16% drowned in a swimming pool.
- 38% of drowning deaths and non-fatal hospitalizations happen between July and September
Open or natural bodies of water refer to oceans, rivers, lakes, canals and ponds.
Keep an Eye on Your Child
The leading reason behind child fatalities is non-supervised kids swimming without a responsible adult watching them. There have been cases of child abuse filed within the court systems throughout Florida in which a parent or guardian have been held legally liable for the death of a child. Some parents think that if their kid is having fun in the water and there are other kids with them, they won't be at risk of drowning. This is a serious misconception.
Children need constant, responsible supervision when they're on or near the water, whether it's a pool on your lanai or a dip in the gulf. And responsible means a person who is not glued to their phone or reading a book, or who has been consuming too much alcohol. The person in charge of watching younger children while they swim needs to make that the only thing they're focused on.
Here are some ways you can reduce the risk of a child drowning:
- The most effective way to reduce the risk of drowning is to have your child take swimming lessons
- Make sure the drains or any open pipes inside the pool your child is in have proper safety covers – hair can easily get sucked into an uncovered drain, trapping the child below water
- Don't let your child near any pool that is not secured by a gate or fence, or uncovered
- If you're not a good swimmer, make sure you have a capable person supervising your kids
- Enroll in a CPR course – they have them for adults and kids – so that in the event of a possible drowning, you're properly trained on what to do
Kids are naturally curious, and pools and lakes can be a very tempting target. They want to go see and feel the water, and it doesn't take much for them to slip or lose their balance and fall in the water. Those kids who have not had adequate swimming training will tend to panic, which only makes the situation that much more dangerous.
Of course, it's not only children who are at the risk of drowning. Adults, especially older people who go into the water, can also die by drowning. Elderly swimmers may run out of strength when trying to reach a pool's edge or lose their balance and fall into a pool. Just as with children, its always a good idea to keep an eye on seniors who are in the ocean, lake or swimming pool.
A skilled and competent personal injury attorney can help determine if another person or entity may be legally responsible for a drowning death. If a pool at a motel or condo complex is not equipped with the required safety apparatus, like life-ring floatation devices or a long pole with a hook on it, they may be responsible for the death of someone who drowned in the water.
A posted sign that claims a swimmer is swimming at their own risk is often seen at public pools or beaches. Lifeguards seemed to have faded away with the passing of time, unless you're at the beach in a larger metropolitan area. But there are many drownings that could have been prevented had someone put a child barrier fence around their pool, or fixed the broken screen door on their patio.
Call a Personal Injury Lawyer if You Have Questions
In the tragic event that you have lost a loved one due to a fatal drowning, you're going to have a lot of serious questions about what actually happened. Anyone can always call our main Fort Myers office at 239-461-5508 to ask questions directly to an attorney who knows the law, and will be able to help you determine if someone should be held liable for the drowning. Or, you can fill out this contact form and an attorney will contact you right away.
Swimming in the bright Florida sun is one of the things that bring so many people to our state. Please take the proper steps to make sure you and your family enjoy it safely, and don't become yet another drowning statistic.