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Safeguarding your children around the water | News

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Safeguarding your children around the water
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Tallahassee, Florida - The summer swimming season brings a higher risk of drownings among young children and that problem is worse in Hillsborough, Pinellas and Polk counties.

Those counties are on the Top 10 list in Florida for having the highest number of drownings of children under the age of five.

Florida leads the nation in the number of young children who drown each year. The Department of Children and Families reports about 100 children die in accidental drownings every year.

So now the state of Florida is reaching out to the 10 counties with the most child drownings and offering parents free door alarms. The equipment is designed to help parents get to their children before they get to the water.

Most child drownings happen in swimming pools but youngsters also drown in the ocean, bathtubs and toilets.

DCF investigates these cases. Spokeswoman Erin Gillespie says accidental drownings are always preventable.

"A child is not going to drown if someone is appropriately watching them and so it just goes to supervision, make sure that if you have a pool or a body of water near your house that you always know where your child is. We advocate for layers of protection. What that means is that if your child is around the water that you make sure they know how to swim if they're old enough, that they are wearing protective gear and that someone is always watching them no matter what."

In addition to watching children around water, you should install fencing around your pool or place child-proof locks on your doors.

Remove toys from the pool area and keep children away from pool drains.

Don't allow a child to supervise another child near water and if there are several adults around a pool, designate one person at a time to be the official "Water Watcher."

Gillespie says the door alarms are an effective tool to know when a child leaves the house. If that happens, the first place to look is the pool or nearby body of water.

"If you have a pool, make sure there are barriers in place so have a pool gate, have an alarm in the pool that will go off if a child falls in. There are lots of things on the market that can protect children from drowning."

To get a free door alarm, contact your county health department or go to www.doh.state.fl.us and click on the link for "Access Health Services."

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