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A record number of children drowned last year in Florida

The state says 98 kids drowned statewide in 2021.
Credit: pkanchana - stock.adobe.com

TAMPA, Fla. — Year-round swimming weather. It's what makes living in the Tampa Bay region so enticing. Northerners grow envious of the climate, and a growing number are moving down here.

From endless pools and water parks, to famous white sand beaches, there are plenty of water-based activities to enjoy with your family. 

However, research from the Florida Department of Children and Families reveals that the total number of drownings reported to the state recently hit a record level, spiking to 98 in 2021 – up from 69 in 2020. Many of the deaths were in Central Florida, and the average age was 3.

An examination of the state data reveals more than half the drownings in 2021 involved a child who was unattended at the time of death. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says a lack of supervision is one of the leading reasons why children drown in swimming pools.

Nearly 80 percent of those who drown are male, the CDC says. Nationwide, the CDC says there are about 3,960 "fatal unintentional drownings" each year.

A disproportionate number of people of color die this way each year. When compared with white people, the CDC says drownings are twice as common among American Indian or Alaska Native people who are 29 and younger. The agency says Black people are 1.5 times more likely to drown than white people, and the disparities are highest among Black children.

Experts from Water Smart Florida say you can prevent swimming deaths by following these simple rules: always have a responsible adult supervising (i.e. no distractions), teach children about water safety rules (such as pool safety rules), set up barriers and alarms to water access when a child is unable to be supervised, be prepared for an emergency (such as learning CPR and having a cell-phone and First Aid ready), teach your child (and yourself) how to swim and float, and always equip weak and non-swimmers with a lifejacket.

You can find more water safety tips by clicking here.