Florida is famous for sparkling water. We have the beautiful Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico surrounding our coast. We have bays, lakes, canals and, of course, an incredible abundance of swimming pools in homes, resorts, apartment complexes and city parks.
Unfortunately, along with our aquatic lifestyle comes a grim distinction: Florida has more children under the age of five die from drowning than any other state in America. The hot days of summer are perfect for cooling off with a refreshing dip, and May and June are traditionally Florida’s deadliest months for this type of accident.
Drowning accidents are not restricted to any location. No community is safe from this scourge and we hear about such tragedies happening throughout the United States. Whether in the mountains or at the shore, in cities or in the country, parents, camp counselors and vacation facilities need to take heed and put safety measures in place.
Children should never be left unattended at the beach or pool. Even a few minutes of distraction can lead to disaster. Swimming devices like tubes or floats are not fail-safe. Little bodies can slip through or tumble off these contraptions. Adults should not be watching from the sidelines but be present in the pool.
Yes, a CPR-trained person should be in attendance any time a pool is in use, but the goal must be to keep a near drowning from ever happening. Even when a successful resuscitation takes place, oxygen deprivation can cause brain damage after five to seven minutes.
The best defense when it comes to potential catastrophe is making sure that children know how to swim from an early age.
Well-meaning parents want to give their children many opportunities. Youngsters are exposed to music lessons, karate, art classes, ballet, sports and gymnastics. Learning to swim should be a priority. The Talmud in Kiddushin advises parents to teach their child to swim. It can be a real life saver.
About the Author: Shelley Benveniste is South Florida editor of The Jewish Press.
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