Tallahassee, Fla. – First Lady Casey DeSantis, Department of Children and Families’ (DCF) Secretary Chad Poppell, and the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles’ (FLHSMV) Executive Director Terry Rhodes are urging all Floridians and visitors to make safety a top priority during the summer months. Summer is especially dangerous with two-thirds of drownings nationwide occurring each year between May and August, and a national average of 38 child vehicular heatstroke fatalities per year.
Florida leads the nation in drownings and near-drownings – a statistic that can be changed with education and prevention. Multiple layers of protection are necessary to prevent these tragedies:
1. Active supervision – Never take your eyes off children who are in or around bodies of water. Always designate a “water watcher” at family gatherings, pool parties, and other water-related activities.
2. Barriers – Barriers such as fences, pool alarms, and safety covers add an extra layer of protection. The more barriers, the more likely a tragedy can be prevented.
3. Swim Lessons – All family members, regardless of age, should learn to swim. Swimming lessons range from infants to adults.
4. Know how to respond – Even if you are not a parent, it’s important to learn CPR and have a cell phone nearby to call emergency responders if a drowning occurs.
“In just a split second your whole world can be turned upside down from something that is completely preventable,” said Brittany Howard, founder of Kacen’s Cause. “Drowning is quick, quiet, and can happen to even the best of parents. Most children who drown, like my son Kacen, were last seen inside, far away from the pool. As a mom who endures the pain of my son’s death every day, I can’t emphasize enough the importance of multiple layers of protection to prevent tragedy.”
Leaving children unattended in vehicles, especially during Florida’s hottest months, can be fatal. Temperatures inside of a vehicle can reach 125 degrees in just minutes. Cracking a window does little to keep the vehicle cool. Never leave a child alone in a car and always remember to Look Before You Lock.