Each year 350 children under the age of five die from drowning. In Southwest Florida drowning happens year round.
Sally Kreuscher, a safe child advocacy program coordinator with Golisano Children’s Hospital, says children and parents need to know how to be safe around the water. “We want to make sure kids never swim alone. Even though kids have had swimming lessons we want to make sure that parents are actively supervising children when they are in and around the water.”
To make that easier, parents can wear a water watcher tag. The person who has the tag is responsible for supervising the kids in the water. Another preventative is ABC—A-adult supervision, B-pool barriers, and C-CPR. “We see drowning at different times all throughout the year. People think it’s only during the summer, but we’re in Southwest Florida and we have water all around us. Drowning can happen at any time,” said Kreuscher.
Which is why health experts encourage swimming lessons to get kids comfortable in the water and teach them maneuvers that may save their life.
Dr. Alex Daneshmand, a pediatric critical care physician with Golisano Children’s Hospital, says parents have to create a layer of protection between their child and the water. “These layers of protection are CPR, swim lessons, alarms, pool fences.”
If kids are on a boat, Florida law requires them to wear a life jacket.
“We do have life jacket loaner stands here in Southwest Florida. We want to make sure families are using them at all times,” said Kreuscher. Making sure the life jacket is Coast Guard approved and meets the child’s correct weight and height can protect children from drowning.
“We can protect these kids from drowning. And the only way we can do that is to be aware of it,” said Dr. Daneshmand.
Through supervision, education, and safety barriers, children can have a fun and safe time in the water.
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