What The Numbers Are Telling Us...

The Child Fatality Prevention website was created to raise public awareness about child fatalities and assist communities with identifying where additional resources or efforts are needed to assist struggling families. This section of the website will provide context to the data along with information and resources for how to use the data to understand trends and develop or support existing prevention efforts.

Drowning Data

Florida loses more children under the age of 5 to drowning than any other state in the nation. As we use the information on this website to target prevention efforts, it is important to know how children are drowning so we can turn this statistic around. Here is what the most recent data is telling us:

In 2013, there were 80 drowning deaths reported to the hotline.

Children 3 and under represent 79 percent of drowning fatalities.

  • 28 percent of the children involved were known to the department while 72 percent were not.
  • 41 percent of the families had prior department involvement within the past five years.

70 drowning deaths occurred in bodies of water including pools, canals, ponds, river, gulf, ocean, etc.

  • 43 percent occurred during outside activities or where the child was left outside unsupervised.
  • 57 percent occurred when the child was able to get out of the home undetected.

8 drowning deaths occurred in bathtubs

1 drowning death occurred in a bucket

1 was unknown

As of November 2014, there were 73 drowning deaths reported to the hotline.

Children 3 and under represent 79 percent of drowning fatalities.

  • 26 percent of the children involved were known to the department while 72 percent were not.
  • 33 percent of the families had prior department involvement within the past five years.

61 drowning deaths occurred in bodies of water including pools, canals, ponds, river, gulf, ocean, etc.

  • 39 percent occurred during outside activities or where the child was left outside unsupervised.
  • 61 percent occurred when the child was able to get out of the home undetected.

4 drowning deaths occurred in bathtubs

1 drowning death occurred when a child fell into a septic tank

Those who have been interested in this topic over the years may know that the Department of Health (DOH) also reports drowning fatalities as part of vital statistics. If you have reviewed that data you may notice a small difference in the DCF and DOH data. This is due to DOH reporting 14 drowning fatalities involving older children in 2013. Three of those children were 18 years old, no longer considered children under the definition in Florida law, four were 17 years old, five were 16 years old and two were 15 years old at the time of the drowning. These cases were not called into the Abuse Hotline because abuse or neglect was not considered a factor in the death. Based on this analysis, we can conclude that there is not an issue involving reporting of drowning fatalities to DCF, but simply a different standard in reporting requirements between to two agencies.

When assessing DCF data, it is important to remember that the department reports on fatalities called into the Hotline because child abuse or neglect is suspected. All other child fatality data, deaths not considered to involve abuse or neglect, are reported through DOH. Understanding the roles of our agencies can make the data more clear and help dispel any confusion about the differences in reporting.