TAMPA, Fla. -- Drowning deaths in Florida are up 70% when compared to this time last year, according to Water Smart Tots.
For children in the state between ages 1 and 4, drowning is the leading cause of death. Annually, enough children to fill three to four preschool classrooms drown before their fifth birthday, according to Florida Health.
The nonprofit says 12 children died from drowning in February and March of this year, compared to zero deaths during those months in 2019.
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"The drowning statistics are rising at an alarming rate even more now that families are home-bound juggling working from home and homeschooling older children," Water Smart Tots wrote on Facebook. "Toddlers are experts at momentarily escaping adult supervision only to be found unresponsive in pool, lake, canal, bathtub, etc. "
Keeping your family safe is a top priority, and these water safety tips can help you out.
Never leave a child alone in or near water. It may seem like an obvious rule, but drowning is a silent catastrophe. It can happen in just a few minutes.
Even if you're at a public pool or beach with a lifeguard, always take responsibility and designate an official water watcher.
Teach your children how to swim. It's not only fun but also a lifesaver. Many places even offer free or discounted lessons.
Broken, loose, or missing drain covers can lead to disaster. Teach your children to stay away from drains and suction outlets, especially in spas and shallow pools. Hair, limbs and bathing suits can all get stuck in the opening.
Install proper barriers, covers and alarms around your spa and/or pool. They can save a life. A fence at least four feet high should surround the pool or spa on all sides. It shouldn't be climbable and should only be accessible through a self-closing, self-latching gate.
If the worst does happen, be prepared and know how to perform CPR on children and adults. Bystanders are often the first to help a drowning victim.
For more safety tips, you can visit several websites, including Water Smart Florida,Pool Safely and even the City of Tampa's website.