It’s an unimaginable tragedy that health experts say can be prevented. “No child, whether they’re small or older, if they can swim or not swim, no child or person is ever 100 percent waterproof,” said Lorena Rodriguez, a child advocate with Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida.
Rodriguez teaches parents how to keep children safe around the water. “Adult supervision is key to preventing an accident from happening. If you’re watching the kids in the pool, you need to be within an arm’s reach watching at all times, not on your phone,” she said.
While pool noodles, floating devices and water wings are popular, health experts encourage parents to get children a Coast Guard approved life jackets that fit them properly. “Have a designated area that they don’t cross, make sure the children that are old enough to know that you don’t pass a certain point in the pool if it’s too deep,” Rodriguez said.
If you have a swimming pool, pool barriers, like alarms and gates, can keep children out of the pool when adults are not present. “Children are just naturally attracted to water because it’s such a fun sport to do, so having barriers in place can really prevent tragedy from happening,” she said.
Each year, nearly 60 children drown in Florida between the months of May and September. “To keep in mind for our older children, they are more at risk of an accident happening in open water. They are stronger swimmers, so sometimes parents are a little more comfortable letting them explore. But open water and a pool are very different,” said Rodriguez.
Drowning can be silent—and it can take less than 2 minutes for a child to drown. Making it important to have a designated water watcher, appropriate barriers, and appropriate life jackets any time a child is in the water.