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Swim experts sound alarm after spike in childhood drownings

DCF: On track to reach a 10 year high
Posted at 8:06 AM, Jul 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-29 08:06:29-04

It is frightening statistic, especially for parents of young children. The Florida Department of Children and Families said child drownings are on track to reach a 10 year high with 65 children who have drowned so far this year.

Mike Kessler, a father, knows about the statistics.

“We want to be able to know that she can save her life. we don’t want her to drown,” he said. “It’s a very scary thing, all the drownings we have read about.”

Keri Morrison, the founder of the Live Like Jake Foundation, focuses on childhood drowning prevention. She lost her son to a drowning in 2013. Morrison is now sounding the alarm about the startling statistics with five months left this year.

“Usually through July, going back, we are at about 50 children, we are at 63 right now, which is way higher than we have ever been,” she said.

Morrison points to the cost of swim lessons and the pandemic keeping people out of swim lessons.

“It’s really a deadly combination between the two,” she said.

Morrison points to the rise in backyard pools and kids at home more with the parents because of COVID-19.

Experts said layers of protection are key to preventing children from drowning. She also said locks on doors, alarms, and pool fences are very important.

“If you live in a home that has a pool or near the water, It’s not an if, it is a must,” she said. “You have to have a pool fence. It is the only physical barrier from keeping your child from reaching the water.”

Morrison said don’t forget about locking pet doors, adult supervision, learn CPR, and enroll your child in swim lessons.

“If all of those layers of protection are in place, drowning is preventable,” she said.

Morrison also warned of a common misconception, that drownings are loud, not silent. In many cases, children drown just feet away from adults.

“Drowning is not like what you see in the movies, when someone is drowning there is no noise, no splash, no yelling,” she said.

Kessler said he understands concerns over cost.

“I mean it’s definitely expensive,” he said. “Thanks to Live Like Jake, there are scholarships available.”

Morrison encourages those who can’t afford it to apply for a scholarship here.

If you don’t qualify, she still wants you to try to make it happen.

“I would do anything to have my son back, and I can tell you burying a child is much more expensive than these swim lessons,” she said. “I know that’s really harsh, but it is the truth. There are a lot of things we can push aside for six weeks to make these lessons happen.”