DCF Newsroom

For Immediate Release:
May 28, 2014

Michelle Glady, DCF Press Secretary, (850) 717-4450
Natalie Harrell, DCF SunCoast Region Communications Director, 813-337-5854

DCF Launches First Phase of Statewide Water Safety Campaign
Campaign encourages adults to keep ‘Eyes on the Kids’ when children have access to water

TALLAHASSEE— The Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) today launched the first phase of its statewide Water Safety Campaign with a press conference at the South Tampa Family YMCA in partnership with the Florida Department of Health (DOH), YMCAs throughout the state, the Children's Board of Hillsborough County and other community partners. Since the start of this year, 28 alleged child drownings have been called into the Florida Abuse Hotline. More than 430 allegations of drowning have been reported to the hotline since 2008.

The Water Safety Campaign urges parents and caregivers to keep “Eyes on the Kids” at all times when children have access to water. Lengthy conversations, texting and phone calls create distractions that should be avoided while children are swimming or near water. A responsible adult should be designated as a “Water Watcher” at all times. In Florida, drowning is among the leading causes of death for children ages 1-4.

“Our state loses more children under the age of five to drowning than any other state in the nation,” DCF Interim Secretary Mike Carroll said. “Parents and caregivers must be vigilant about keeping their eyes on children around water. Taking extra precautions can save a child’s life.”

The campaign brings together resources for swim lessons and highlights the importance that every child in Florida learns to swim. The American Association of Pediatrics recommends that all children ages 4 and up take swimming lessons. Local YMCAs, city facilities and swim schools may offer classes, often at very low or no cost.

"Keeping Florida's children safe in and around water is everyone's responsibility," said State Surgeon General and Secretary of Health Dr. John Armstrong. "Supervise consistently, use gates to prevent access to pools, and learn emergency CPR to help keep water activities safe for everyone this summer."

High resolution images, two drowning prevention PSAs and additional resources for media are available for distribution by visiting www.myflfamilies.com/watersafety.

For more information on drowning prevention and statistics visit www.waterprooffl.com.