Miami, Florida – The number of child drownings and near drownings in South Florida increases dramatically each year during the Summer. Now that school is almost out, more kids will spend a greater amount of time in and around swimming pools. That makes summer vacation one of the most dangerous times for children.
South Florida has always had one of the highest child drownings rates in the country. ”It’s the No. 1 killer of young kids in South Florida,” said Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Lt. Eddy Ballester, speaking about accidental drownings. “We have that dubious distinction of suffering more tragedies than anywhere else in the country.”
Child drownings, however, can be prevented. Most child drownings occur in backyard swimming pools. And most of those accidents can be avoided by following a few important safety tips including:
• Teach kids how to swim or at least survive in the water.
• Use pool fences, pool alarms, self-closing and self-latching gates and alarms on doors to make sure toddlers don’t get into the pool when you aren’t watching.
• Don’t let children play near a pool without adult supervision.
• Parents should tell their kids to take breaks every so often and when they get swimming lessons, they need to practice.
”Just like a designated driver, you need to have a designated pool watcher,” Ballester said.
42 children drowned in Broward County since 2005 and 43 in Miami-Dade in that same period.
According to experts, many child drowning victims come from poor or minority communities with limited exposure to pools.
South Florida statistics mirror national statistics that showed 58 percent of black children and 56 percent of Hispanic children cannot swim safely. Hispanic girls are among highest risk according to figures from Miami-Dade Fire-Rescue.
In the three years since 2005, most drownings in Miami-Dade occurred in West Kendall, followed by Haulover Beach and South Dade.
Most of these incidents are classified only as drownings, when in fact, many are the result of suction entrapment accidents involving dangerous, defective or poorly maintained pool drains. Suction entrapment accidents occur when a swimmer (usually his/her clothing or hair) becomes stuck to the drain on the bottom of a pool. The suction is often strong enough to keep an adult from getting free.
While supervision is extremely important, it is widely recognized that kids do get away from their parents or babysitters at times. That’s why many municipal building codes require pools to be fenced or gated. Improperly maintained gates and fences however can not protect children and are too often the cause of child drownings and near drownings.
Child drownings and near drownings (which can leave children in a coma or with permanent brain damage) can be devastating to a family. Our trial lawyers take pride in holding irresponsible individuals and corporations accountable for their negligence and believe that in doing so, our communities are made safer for children.
If a family member or loved one was the victim of an accidental drowning or near drowning, contact the Miami injury lawyers at Hannon Legal Group today for a free consultation.