Child Drowning Deaths Hit a Record High in Florida in 2021

Child Drowning Deaths Hit a Record High in Florida in 2021

Child Drowning Deaths Hit a Record High in Florida in 2021 1080 1080 Panter, Panter & Sampedro

According to the Department of Children and Families, more children under the age of five died due to drowning in Florida than in any other state. Child drownings increased in Florida by almost thirty percent in 2021, a twelve-year high. 

In a comment to WUSF Public Radio, supervisor Petra Stanton of the health and safety coalition “Safe Kids”, explained that Florida experienced a high amount of child drownings because the state is both surrounded by water and “dense with water”. She went on to add that the pandemic may have contributed to the rise in drownings, as many parents were working from home and unable to supervise their children adequately. 

Drowning is the leading cause of death for children one to four years old, the second leading cause of death for children one to fourteen years old, and the fifth leading cause of death for people of all ages in the United States according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Even when children do survive drowning, about twenty percent will experience severe and permanent neurological disability. 

To prevent unintentional drowning, the National Drowning Prevention Alliance recommends the following four “layers of protection”. 


In a study published on WebMD, researchers found that although ninety-four percent of adults reported always supervising their children while they were in the water, the number of drownings suggests that the attention of the adults could not have been completely focused on the children. After studying the drowning deaths of 496 children aged fourteen years and under in 2020 and 2021, researchers concluded that eighty-eight percent of drowning victims were under some form of adult supervision at the time of the incident. 

Parents and adult caregivers must engage in active supervision of minors when a child is in or near a body of water. Stanton says most drownings are silent, as children may go underwater and surface just for a moment to gasp for air before remaining submerged. An adult that is not intently focused on the child may miss the signs and not act until it is already too late. 

Active adult supervision is the most important layer in preventing drowning. A “water-watcher” who is able to watch children without any distractions should be designated any time a child is in or near water. This adult should be aware of any potential dangers whether a child is in a bathtub, in the ocean, visiting other homes, on vacation, or at a community or public pool. 

Physical Layers

To restrict pool access by children, property owners should install fences around their pools or spa areas. Physical barriers such as fences allow parents additional time to locate a child that has wandered away before an unexpected accident occurs. 

Physical layers include fences, latches, gates, and doors. Additional layers that can prevent access to the water are pool and spa safety covers and safety nets. Parents and caregivers should also contact their neighbors to ask whether they have physical barriers to pools and spas installed. Some neighbors may even be amenable to installing these safety measures to protect the children of their neighborhood.  


In addition to physical layers, alarms play an important role in creating a safer environment for children. Alarms installed in such places as windows, doors, and gates that lead to bodies of water, alert adults to a potential breach by a child. This added layer of protection gives an adult additional time to locate a child before an accident occurs. 

Swimming Lessons

Learning to swim can reduce the risk of accidental drowning by eighty-eight percent according to the CDC. Swimming is a life-saving skill that provides an additional layer of protection against drowning. Although studies show that the best time to learn to swim is between the ages of one and four, programs throughout Florida allow infants and young children to participate in water safety and prevention classes. Parents and caregivers should also enroll in water safety, CPR, first aid, and rescue courses, many of which are available through the Red Cross

Keeping Our Community Safe

At Panter, Panter, and Sampedro we are committed to keeping our Florida communities safe. This includes providing our friends and neighbors with important safety information such as this. We are a leading personal injury law firm dedicated to protecting Florida’s families for over thirty years. Learn more about us by visiting panterlaw.com.










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