DCF: Drowning Remains Leading Cause of Death for Florida Children


As of December 13, it was recorded that 71 Florida children have died from drowning since the start of the year.

According to the Florida Department of Children and Families, Florida loses more children under the age of 5 to drowning than any other state in the nation. Drowning is the leading confirmed cause of death among Florida children accounting for more than 16 percent of child fatalities.

Children under 3 years old have accounted for 70 percent of the deaths by drowning so far in 2016.

“In 2015, 84 Florida children died due to drowning, and Florida loses more children under the age of five to drowning than any other state in the nation,” said DCF speaker Pat Smith in an email. “These deaths were 100 percent preventable.”

The most recent death reported, in Polk County on Nov. 29, came when a 1-year-old child drowned in the pond behind the family’s residence after he got out of the home undetected.

2015 saw the highest number of child fatalities in years, recording 473 child fatalities. As of Dec. 1, there has been 423 child fatalities in Florida for 2016.

“Anytime that a child dies, it is a tragedy, but it is especially painful when a child’s death is preventable, said DCF Press Secretary David Frady. “In 2015, 84 Florida children died due to drowning, and Florida loses more children under the age of five to drowning than any other state in the nation. Child drowning deaths are highly preventable and we urge all parents to make sure that their children are properly supervised at all times.”

In 2014, 39 percent of child drownings occurred during outside activities or where the child was left outside unsupervised, according to the DCF.

10 of Florida’s 71 child fatalities have come from Collier County. The age of the children that have passed away range from 1-month-old to 16 years old.

While 16 percent of the state’s child deaths come from drowning, 20 percent of Collier’s child deaths so far in 2016 were a result of drowning.

To prevent drowning, the DCF recommends both parent supervision and swim lessons for all children under 4.

“It is also important for anyone who has a pool or other body of water, not only those with children of their own, to take steps to prevent children from accidentally falling into the water,” Frady said. “DCF will provide water safety program courses for schools, childcare centers, community centers or any other organization that would like to help educate local families on how to prevent drowning in their communities.”

For families living in the Collier area, the Naples YMCA offers free swimming classes to children through a program called Spier Splash.

“I don’t know if people are always really aware of how serious this issue is,” said Naples YMCA CEO Paul Thein. “Children who can’t swim are at a great risk, especially in the Sunshine State.”

The program, offered to first, second and third graders, is taught by Naples Swim School instructors at the Naples YMCA pool after school.

“Child drowning prevention is really important to us and the community,” said Naples YMCA CEO Paul Thein. “I can’t imagine the heartbreak from ever losing your child to drowning. It’s preventable and it’s so cool that we get the opportunity to help prevent that through these free classes.”

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