WESTON (CBS4) – Next week school will be out for the summer and thousands of South Florida kids will be spending their days at the beach or hanging out at a pool.

But before they head out the door, parents are encouraged to talk to their kids about playing it safe. Drowning is the leading cause of death among children between 1 and 4 years old and for every child that drowns, four more nearly drown.

In 2009, 485 Florida residents drowned; children ages 1-4 made up 13% of the deaths and 43% of the hospitalizations. Nationwide, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that nearly 300 children younger than five drown in swimming pools and spas each year; and more than 3,000 that age go to hospital emergency rooms due to near-drownings.

On Monday, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz was joined by Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti, Broward County Health Department’s Kim Burgess and Dr. Peter Antevy with Joe Dimaggio Childrens Hospital to talk about the importance of keeping an eye on children while you’re at the pool.

“Broward County has the most drownings of children under 4 years old in the state, and our state, Florida, had the most drownings of children under 4 years old in the country” emphasized Wasserman Shultz.

She was joined on stage by Glenda Robinson, a mother whose son, Jeremy, almost drowned in a pool when he was 2 years old.

“It was agony, it was agony. It’s a lot of regret because had we done things properly, like having the prevention methods in place, being more vigilant, we wouldn’t have put our family in that predicament,” explains Robinson.

Water & Pool Safety Tips

The CPCS suggests many drowning prevention methods and tips to keep kids safe around the water. If you have a pool, fences and walls around it should be at least 4 feet high and installed completely around it. Fence gates should be self-closing and self-latching. The latch should be out of a small child’s reach.

If your house forms one side of the barrier to the pool, then doors leading from the house to the pool should be protected with alarms that produce a sound when a door is unexpectedly opened.

Underwater pool alarms can be used in conjunction with pool covers. CPSC advises that consumers use remote alarm receivers so the alarm can be heard inside the house or in other places away from the pool.

Wasserman Shultz stresses, parents should always be attentive and alert.

“Never take your eye off a child when they’re around water. Don’t answer the phone, don’t switch your clothes from the washer to the dryer. Don’t fall asleep, don’t take a nap.”

And if a child is missing, always look in the pool first. Seconds count in preventing death or disability.


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