Press Release

State of Florida
Department of Children and Families
Rick Scott

David E. Wilkins

February 23, 2011
MEDIA CONTACT: Erin Gillespie
(239) 243-4299

DCF Reminds Parents Never to Leave Children Unattended Near Water
~In the past week, there have been three drowning incidents in Southwest Florida~

FORT MYERS, FLA. - The State of Florida loses more children under the age of five to drowning every year than any other state in the nation. On any given year, about 75 children, or enough to fill four preschool classrooms, will die from drowning in Florida. There are also more than 200 near-drownings every year.

In Southwest Florida, the Florida Department of Children and Families has investigated three drowning events in the past week. Tragically, one of these children has already died. One remains on life support in the hospital and another child has recovered. Each of these tragedies could have been prevented. Children do not drown when someone is dedicated to keeping eyes on them. Last year, our department investigated the deaths of eight children who drowned. In 2009, we investigated four drowning deaths, and in 2008, eight.

Parents and other family members need to remember to never take eyes off a child who is near any body of water. Drownings occur in pools, canals and the ocean, but they also occur in the bathtub, the toilet and buckets of water. Young children can drown in less than two inches of water and in less than five minutes, the time it takes to use the restroom or answer a telephone. Most parents have only left their children alone for a few minutes when drownings occur.

If you are a parent, grandparent, babysitter or other caregiver, make sure you follow the water safety tips below and never, ever leave a child unattended in or near any water.

Water safety tips:

  • Install fencing and other barriers around your pool and make sure that they are working properly.
  • Make sure your doors have alarms and child proof locks.
  • Teach children know how to swim and what to do in case of an emergency.
  • Remove toys, especially riding toys, away from the pool area.
  • Never allow a child to be around any water unsupervised. That includes bathtubs, buckets, ponds, ditches, canals, pools, rivers, oceans, hot tubs and more.
  • Never allow a child to supervise another child by or in water.
  • Make sure children stay away from pool drains.