paramedics.jpgIn Miami-Dade County, drowning happens year-round. However, most fatal and non-fatal drowning takes place during the spring and summer.

Drowning is the leading cause of death among children ages 1 to 4 in the county. The most common site for a childhood drowning death is a residential swimming pool.  For every child who dies from drowning, another three receive emergency department care for non-fatal submersion injuries.

Non-fatal drowning can cause brain damage that may result in long-term disabilities, including memory problems, learning disabilities and permanent loss of basic functioning.

“We emphasize the importance of vigilant and uninterrupted adult supervision as the most effective drowning prevention strategy,” said Lillian Rivera, administrator of the Miami-Dade County Health Department. “One drowning is one too many.”

The major risk factors behind childhood drowning are a lack of barriers and supervision, the department says. Most young children who drown in pools are last seen in the home, out of sight for less than five minutes, and are in the care of an adult at the time.

Also, records indicate that in many drownings, there was either no barrier present or one that was not working properly.

The department recommends the following to help prevent childhood drowning:


■ Keep your eyes on the kids: Never leave a child unsupervised in or around water, not even for a second.

■ Install four-sided isolation fencing with a self-closing and self-latching gate around pools and spas. The fence should be at least  four feet high to prevent children from climbing over.

■ Remove floats, balls and other toys from the pool and surrounding area immediately after use. The presence of these toys may encourage children to enter     the pool area and possibly fall in.

■ Install alarms on all doors and windows leading to the pool.

■ Learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

■ Use life jackets on children when in or around a body of water. Air- filled flotation devices should not be used in place of life jackets. They are not designed to keep swimmers safe.

■ Keep a phone at poolside so that you never have to leave the pool to answer he phone — and can call for help if needed.

For more information on drowning visit