Floridians statewide are outside celebrating fantastic weather, fabulously beautiful blooms of the flowers and flowering trees which surround us, along with the beaches, lakes, waterways and pools which make our state second to none. As the weather becomes more beautiful and the temperatures rise, we are all attracted more and more to the water which enhances the beauty of our state.
However, there is danger in the beauty. In 2013, Florida had the highest unintentional drowning rate in the nation for the 1-4 year old age group with a drowning rate of 7.54 per 100,000 population. Drowning is perpetually the leading cause of injury death for children between the ages of 1 and 9 years of age in Florida.
The risk of drowning presents itself everywhere we turn in Florida. From the beaches, to the lakes and waterways, at our community pools and in our private homes, the beautiful but dangerous water is everywhere.
Those who are most at-risk are the very young. Those who don’t have the experience to recognize the danger often fall victim to a danger they do not understand. It is to protect the youngest and most vulnerable children that state law requires self-closing, self-latching gates surrounding pools both in residential and commercial locations. Property owners should routinely check the fences and gates surrounding their pools to ensure that the gates close and latch automatically so that young, vulnerable children are protected from the danger.
Many of our communities have lakes and waterways to enhance their beauty. Many of our residential developments were built around lakes which were formed when rock was dug out for use in road building and construction as our communities grew. Unfortunately, many of the resulting lakes have an edge which immediately drops to a depth which would led to the death of a non-swimmer who happened to stumble into the water or who might be wading in the coolness of the shallows unaware of the precipitous drop to the depths just inches from where they are walking.
Since the late 80’s Florida law has required that new communities create a 2 foot drop in height for the first 8 feet as the land sloped in to the water. This was intended to prevent the drownings of those who stumbled or stepped off the edge when walking at the water’s edge.
Florida’s laws are a common sense attempt to protect our children as well as our residents and tourists alike. There are many other provisions in the law mandating other safety measures. However, vigilance of our children when they are anywhere near water and, more importantly, making sure our children know how to swim and are drown-proofed at an early age, are the best drowning prevention measures.
If an incident like this has happened to you or someone you know, contact attorney Matt Weissing by email [email protected] or call (954) 524-2820.