Water-safety tips can keep Florida residents safe from drowning

Florida is well known for its coastal beaches, recreational lakes and swimming pools. Unfortunately, the state also leads the country each year in drowning-related deaths of children 5 years old and younger. As spring weather renews everyone’s interest in swimming, safety has to be at the forefront of every citizen’s mind to prevent drowning and swimming-related injuries.

There are four important ways to prevent swimming fatalities. First, always supervise children around water. Designate a watcher to keep tabs on kids on the beach or in the pool. A watcher should never be distracted by a smartphone or conversation; most drownings happen in just two minutes or less.

Second, make sure swimming pools are safe. State law prohibits unsecured swimming pools. A home swimming pool should have barriers that will keep children from getting into the water easily. A fence with a safety gate should also be installed around every pool. Every pool should also have a cover fitted by a professional; simple and makeshift canvas pool covers can trap swimmers.

Third, teach children and parents to swim. Even the most basic swimming techniques can reduce the chances of drowning. If they do not already know how, parents should learn to swim and make sure their children take lessons.

Fourth, plan ahead for emergencies. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation or CPR is crucial to prevent drowning deaths because there is only a small window of opportunity to revive a child who stops breathing. Be sure to keep a phone close by so 911 can be called immediately.

Even if these safety precautions are in place, a swimming pool owner or beach manager can be held legally responsible if a drowning or accident occurs. Florida residents can hold a property owner or manager liable through a premises liability lawsuit if their negligence contributes to an accident.

Source: My Home Town News, “Parents, caregivers urged to use caution around water,” April 18, 2014

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