Record number of children drowned in Florida in 2021

According to the Florida Department of Children and Families, Florida reported the highest number of child drownings in 2021 since at least 2009, with 98.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Ahead of a hot summer, swimming instructors and experts want to make sure everyone knows swimming safety tips, especially during National Aquatic Swimming Safety Month, which is in may.

According to Florida Department of Children and FamiliesFlorida reported the highest number of child drownings in 2021 since at least 2009 with 98. Six of those children drowned in Duval County.

“Drowning is largely preventable, or at least you have the ability to do proactive things to prevent your children from getting into that situation and one of those is the ISR technique,” Infant Swimming Resource instructor Amy Prichett mentioned.

Pritchett recommends children start SRI classes around 12 to 24 months, but she said they can start as early as six months.

“We teach the kids to swim, but at the same time it’s all about safety first, so just like you saw watching this lesson, if he goes down the steps, we teach him to step back. and walk up the stairs. Don’t trust one person,” she said.

Two-year-old Carter Cowart started ISR classes when she was nine months old.

“SRI is a life-saving skill and I think it’s the best gift you can give your child, so they can save themselves in an emergency,” Carter’s mother Casey Cowart said.

Casey Cowart said it’s not only important that her son can swim because they have a pool, but also because drowning hits close to home.

“This year we actually had someone in the family drown unfortunately a five year old little boy about two months ago so I’ll be shouting it from the rooftops now please make sure sure you are doing everything you can to protect your children,” Cowart said.

Pritchett said it’s important for anyone, regardless of age, to learn to swim.

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“For parents, a constant look at [children]. For adults who can’t swim, there are adult swim programs as well, and I can’t stress enough, if you live in Florida, if you live in an area that has water at every turn, you won’t you can’t have it in your garden, but you have retention ponds. You have the ocean. You have the rivers. You have next door neighbours’ pools so there’s no reason why being part of a swimming program isn’t part of a necessary need, especially for children, but also for adults “, said Pritchett.

Michael Haggard, who is part of the National Drowning Prevention Alliance and managing partner of the law firm Haggard, agrees with Pritchett. He also said everyone needed to work together to prevent drownings.

“Each apartment complex should have a fence around it, around the swimming pool, with self-closing and self-locking gates and locks,” he said. “It’s hugely important because that’s what we see time and time again, that kids get through fences that aren’t up to code,” he said.

“Then the problem in Florida is that we have so many lakes and retention ponds and rivers that don’t have fences and have steep slopes, and we lose so many kids because of that. throughout the year,” he said.

Haggard has represented over 100 families who have lost children to drowning. More than 10 years ago, he helped pass the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act, which requires all pool and spa equipment to be equipped with pool and spa safety technology. trapping.

He said it was for reauthorization this year.

“Business owners and property owners need to know that it’s swimming season. So apartments need to recheck their pools, their doors. Now we have all these Airbnbs in Florida, you know, and the people who own and operate them must make sure the pool is safe Hotels need to make sure they don’t have a problem when a toddler can cross the lobby and get to a pool that isn’t is not monitored,” he said.

So far already this month, there have been at least two children drowned on the First Coast.

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