Accidental drowning overtakes unsafe sleep as the top cause of preventable death in three Tampa Bay counties
TAMPA, Fla. (March 4, 2019) – Accidental drowning is now the top cause of preventable death for children under the age of six in three Tampa Bay counties.
Since 2011, unsafe sleep practices were the leading cause of preventable death in the Tampa Bay area. That grim ranking changed in 2018, when 18 young children drowned in Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties.
“Locally, we have tragically lost children in backyard pools, lakes, canals, retention ponds, as well as at beaches. Parents and caregivers must remain vigilant when children are in or around water. Adult supervision is critical to prevent accidental child drowning,” said Kelley Parris, Executive Director of the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County, one of the partner organizations in the Prevent Needless Deaths campaign. “Also install barriers in your home, such as door alarms and pool fences, to prevent a child from accessing any body of water while unsupervised.”
It’s also common for parents and caregivers to think that children are safe from harm when they’re in their home, but it’s where most preventable deaths happen. Many times, the parent or caregiver thought the child was playing or napping, and didn’t realize that the child had gained access to a body of water.
Young children can drown in as little as 20 seconds. Becoming distracted for even a few seconds can be fatal for a young child. Follow these tips to protect a child from drowning:
• Realize the risks are year-round. Many parents and caregivers may think that drowning only happens in the summer or near the beach or pool, but in Tampa Bay the threat of water is everywhere all year long. Lakes, retention ponds and canals are just as dangerous as a pool.
• Stay alert. Drowning often happens silently, without the child splashing or calling out for help. This makes it even easier for a drowning child to go unnoticed, so stay alert to prevent accidental drownings.
• Designate a “water watcher.” Lack of adult supervision in and around the water is the main reason children die from drowning. An adult should be assigned to keep their eyes on the child at all times when they are in or near water, and must avoid distractions such as texting. Infants and toddlers should always be accompanied by an adult in the water, and be within arm’s reach.
• Never rely on floatation devices. Flotation devices, such as water wings, inner tubes or even life vests should be used only in conjunction with close adult supervision.
• Be aware of hidden hazards. A young child can drown in as little as 1 inch of water, everything from a bucket to a puddle to a pet’s water bowl can pose a drowning risk.
To learn more about water safety, safe infant sleep and abusive head trauma prevention, visit www.PreventNeedlessDeaths.com.
About Prevent Needless Deaths
Prevent Needless Deaths is an awareness campaign that aims to educate people in Hillsborough County on how to prevent needless deaths among children related to water safety, safe sleep practices and head trauma prevention. www.PreventNeedlessDeaths.com.
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