May is National Swim Safety Month. Our team at Haggard Law is passionate about observing this time as we have unfortunately had to represent families who have suffered the loss or a significant injury to a loved one in a drowning or near drowning. With these tragic experiences, we have learned that water safety involves active participation of family, friends, the swimmers and the people who are responsible for pools, pool equipment, and properties that have other bodies of water such as ponds and lakes.
According to the Florida Department of Health, Florida leads the country in drowning deaths of children ages 1-4 years. Annually in Florida, enough children to fill three to four preschool classrooms drown before their fifth birthday.
According to the U.S Swimming Foundation, in 2017 Florida lost more children to drowning than any other state. There were 51 fatal child drownings in Florida pools or spas in 2017, a 20 percent spike compared to 2016. 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.
Th American Red Cross has these swim safety tips:
- Swim in designated areas supervised by lifeguards.
- Always swim with a buddy; do not allow anyone to swim alone.
- Never leave a young child unattended near water and do not trust a child’s life to another child; teach children to always ask permission to go near water.
- Have young children or inexperienced swimmers wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets around water, but do not rely on life jackets alone.
- Maintain constant supervision.
- Make sure everyone in your family learns to swim well. Enroll in age-appropriate Red Cross water orientation and learn-to-swim courses.
- If you have a pool, secure it with appropriate barriers. Many children who drown in home pools were out of sight for less than five minutes and in the care of one or both parents at the time.
- Avoid distractions when supervising children around water.
- If a child is missing, check the water first. Seconds count in preventing death or disability.
- Have appropriate equipment, such as reaching or throwing equipment, a cell phone, life jackets and a first aid kit.
- Know how and when to call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number.
- Enroll in Red Cross home pool safety, water safety, first aid and CPR/AED courses to learn how to prevent and respond to emergencies.
- Protect your skin. Limit the amount of direct sunlight you receive between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. and wear sunscreen with a protection factor of at least 15.
- Drink plenty of water regularly, even if you’re not thirsty. Avoid drinks with alcohol or caffeine in them.
Also parents remember your pool gate safety and pool pump safety.