Secretary Harris highlights the importance of water safety

Posted 6/20/23

On June 19, Department of Children (DCF) and Families Secretary Shevaun Harris was joined by State Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo...

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Secretary Harris highlights the importance of water safety


WINTER PARK — On June 19, Department of Children (DCF) and Families Secretary Shevaun Harris was joined by State Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo, Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) Director Taylor Hatch, and others to discuss water safety and prevention efforts.

“Florida’s weather allows families to enjoy the pool, beaches and springs all year long, and even more as we approach the beginning of summer, so it is vitally important to bring awareness to safe practices that all families should use,” said DCF Secretary Shevaun Harris. “We have seen an alarming increase in the number of drownings in our state, and sadly, these deaths are preventable. I want to encourage all parents and caregivers to ensure that water safety measures are in place near any and all bodies of water.”

“Floridians enjoy the water and sun year-round, but summer is especially timely for raising awareness about water safety,” said State Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo. “Tragically, drowning continues to be the leading cause of unintentional death for children between 1-4 years of age in our state. This summer, the Florida Department of Health encourages everyone to take steps to splash safely when enjoying the beach, pool, and other water attractions.”

“Today’s important event brings awareness and amplifies the message of water safety for all Floridians, including those with unique abilities,” said Agency for Persons with Disabilities Director, Taylor Hatch. “We know some individuals with unique abilities are attracted to water due to its sensory impact and are more likely to be involved in water incidents. Therefore, it is incredibly important to ensure that we all take part in the promotion of water safety to minimize risk and encourage enjoyable experiences.”

“We lost our son Gunner after we laid him down for a nap. Children are more at risk for drowning during non swim times, therefore we recommend having multiple layers of protection on backyard pools and other bodies of water,” said Christina Martin, Gunnar Martin Foundation.

Adam Katchmarchi, Ph.D., Executive Director, National Drowning Prevention Alliance, said “Drowning is a multi-sector problem that needs collaboration, partnership, and innovation. By partnering together and implementing simple solutions, such as practicing the five layers of protection when in, on, or around the water, we can drastically reduce childhood drowning.”

Drowning is preventable, and the State of Florida works to educate Floridians and visitors on safe recreation around all bodies of water. Some actions individuals can take include:

• Ensuring children are supervised in and around bodies of water.
• Engaging in swim lessons.
• Learning CPR.

• Making sure pool barriers and gates meet state law requirements.
• Following life jacket laws and ensuring life jackets are properly fitted.
• Checking local conditions before you head out to the water, such as weather conditions, rip tides, and marine life.

water, safety