Drowning awareness is up, but are numbers changing?

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Three drownings in three days on the First Coast and the most recent was a young child. The toddler was pulled breathless from a residential pool in Flagler Estates Thursday.

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Investigators say the child was found unconscious in an above ground pool in a home after he was missing for ten minutes. A neighbor certified in CPR was called to help, but it was too late.

"She started the chest compressions and I started the mouth to mouth and we did what we could do till paramedics got there," said Jennifer Petermann.

Statistics from Florida Charts show that drownings for victims of all ages in Florida are up 12 percent from the data collected from 1992 - 1994 and 2011-2013. Drownings are down 27 percent in Duval County, but nationwide Florida is still number one for children.

"In Florida the number one killer of children under the age of 5 is drowning," said Cynthia Dennis, Safe Kids Northeast Florida.

The Department of Children and Families says since the beginning of this year more than 40 child drownings have been called into the Florida Abuse Hotline. Increased awareness and new initiatives have decreased drownings of children up to 14 years old in Duval County. In fact, every county in Northeast Florida has seen a reduction in deaths compared to the rest of the state.

From highest number of drownings to lowest, Duval County ranks number 7, Putnam ranks 31, St. Johns ranks 32, Bradford ranks 37, Clay ranks 39, and Nassau County ranks 43.

"Safe Kids Northeast Florida led by Wolfson Children's Hospital has been working with the city for 9 years providing free swimming lessons for children who otherwise wouldn't be able to afford them," said Dennis.

The city of Jacksonville partnered with local groups to give free swim lessons to 1500 children this year, But Dennis adds that supervision is key and so is having multiple barriers.

"You need to have more than one layer of protection in case one thing fails another will work, so that's starting with the door that leads out to the backyard where the pool is," said Dennis.

In 2000 the state passed law requiring a new swimming pools to have at least one pool safety feature. In order to pass final inspections, pools have to have one of the following: must be fenced in, have a pool safety cover, any door or window with direct access to the pool has to have an exit alarm, or you can have a self-latching or self-closing device on the door no lower than 54 inches.

For more information on statistics from Florida Charts click here.


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