WFTX — In 2020, there were 68 preventable fatalities of children due to drowning in Florida. The heartbreaking reality: 81% of those preventable deaths were age 3 and under.
Drowning can happen in any body of water, not just pools. In fact, children can drown in as little as one inch of water.
The Charlotte County Sheriff's Office reminds the Southwest Florida community that teaching water awareness to young children is extremely important and offers the following tips to keep everyone safe around water:
Constant adult supervision
Determine who will be the water watcher and provide them with a lanyard. (Water Watcher lanyards are available for free at the Crime Prevention Office located at the Port Charlotte Town Center Mall).
Install a pool fence
There are local organizations that will assist you with this. Check out Just Against Child Drowning Foundation.
Install home security- secondary barriers
Add multiple layers of protection, such as house door alarms, water disturbance alarms and child immersion alarms.
Children that are not strong swimmers should wear US Coast Guard-approved, well-fitting life jackets.
Set water safety rules for the whole family
Kids should never swim alone, inexperienced swimmers should stay in water less than chest deep, don’t dive into water less than 9 feet deep, stay away from pool drains, pipes and other openings, etc.
Don’t leave pool toys in the water. A child might fall into the water while trying to retrieve a toy.
Don't forget about toilets, bathtubs, buckets or other items containing water
A baby can drown in just 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) of water. A curious toddler can fall into a toilet, bucket, or fish tank. Consider these precautions:
- Keep the bathroom door closed. Install a safety latch or doorknob cover on the outside of the door.
- Supervise bath time. Never leave a child alone in the bathtub or in the care of another child. Drain water from the tub immediately after use.
- Shut toilet lids. Consider installing childproof locks on lids.
- Store buckets safely. Empty buckets and other containers immediately after use. Don’t leave them outside, where they might accumulate water.
Resources to assist in teaching kids to be water aware:
- SplashZone Coloring Book – This coloring book, for children ages 4 to 7, teaches water safety in a fun way.
- Longfellow’s WHALE Tales Program – What’s better than learning about swim and water safety? Learning about it from a fun whale named Longfellow. These short, educational videos teach children everything from why it’s important to swim in pairs to how too much sun is no fun.