At an event in Coral Gables at the end of last week, Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez was at the historic Venetian pool, the largest freshwater pool in the nation, to discuss drowning prevention and boating safety.
Also there to discuss water safety tips was Florida Department of Health (DOH) Deputy Secretary Dr. Kenneth Scheppke, local officials, and water safety stakeholders. Nuñez also presented Gov. Ron DeSantis’ proclamation recognizing May as Water Safety Month in Florida.
“Florida is a vacation destination known for its iconic beaches, rivers, and springs,” said Nuñez. “Sadly, drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death for children ages 1-4. With May being recognized as National Water Safety Month, we encourage all Floridians and visitors to follow water safety guidance. As we enjoy our slice of paradise this summer, it is essential that we all splash safely year-round.”
In 2021, 98 children were victims of drowning in the state. Recent data also indicates an increase in drowning fatalities occurring in short-term vacation rental properties. The DOH and the DCF have also partnered with Airbnb to ensure timely water safety messaging and tips are provided to vacation rental hosts and guests.
“Drowning continues to be the number one cause of death among children ages 1 to 4. As an emergency physician, I’ve seen the terrible devastation that drowning can cause for Florida’s families. But it is preventable,” said DOH Deputy Secretary for Health Dr. Kenneth Scheppke. “While we welcome summer and Memorial Day, we must all remember to enjoy summer safely in our recreational endeavors by following state and local guidance.”
“With many residents and visitors enjoying Florida’s year-round boating season, we want to remind people to boat safely ahead of the Memorial Day weekend,” said Colonel Roger Young from Florida Fish and Wildlife’s Division of Law Enforcement. “Preventable tragedies happen because of boat operators who are distracted or impaired. Our officers will be patrolling the waterways to ensure the safety of Florida’s recreational boaters.”
“Each year Florida loses the equivalent of 3-4 classrooms to fatal drowning incidents,” said Safe Kids Coalition Representative Malvina Duncan. “Last year alone we had 98 child drownings. These do not include the many more children who suffer the tragic consequences of non-fatal drownings.”
Drowning is preventable, and the state of Florida works to educate Floridians and visitors on safe recreation around all bodies of water. Some actions individuals can take include:
• Ensuring children are supervised in and around bodies of water;
• Engaging in swim lessons;
• Learning CPR;
• Making sure pool barriers and gates meet state law requirements;
• Following life jacket laws and ensuring life jackets are properly fitted; and
• Checking local conditions before you head out to the water, such as weather conditions, rip tides, and marine life.
In addition to Water Safety Month, DeSantis declared May 21-27 as safe boating week. As the boating capitol of the world, the state of Florida also encourages safe boating practices including wearing life jackets and attending safe boating courses. Water and boating fatalities are something that we seek to change each and every day in Florida.
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