Florida Lawmakers Seek Remedy to Sunshine State's Drowning Problem

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Florida legislators are considering new measures to curb drowning rates in the state after Florida once again led the nation in child drowning deaths in 2023. 

According to the South Florida Sun Sentinel, which cited data from the Florida Department of Children and Families, 97 kids drowned in Florida last year. 

The numbers have caught the attention of lawmakers in the state, as they're now looking at ways to keep kids safe in the water. 

“This year, for some reason, there’s some momentum,” said Brent Moore, executive director of the Children’s Safety Village and lead for the Central Florida Water Safety Task Force.

One proposed bill would give free swim lesson voucher to kids 4 and under in families below 200 percent of the federal poverty level, or about $60,000 for a family of four. That bill has already unanimously passed the senate committees. 

“We would love for that bill to get passed,” Moore said. “We definitely want to be one of those locations that accept the vouchers.”

Another proposed bill would require organizations like summer camps or schools that take kids to bodies of water to get parents to attest, in writing, whether their children can swim. Kids at risk of drowning would be required to wear flotation devices.

That legislation has been proposed before but has failed to gain traction with lawmakers. On Tuesday, it unanimously passed the Senate’s Children, Families, and Elder Affairs Committee during the committee’s final meeting of the 2024 legislative session.

Yet another bill would require homeowners to install at least one safety barrier to their pool before they can sell their home — regardless of what year the pool was built. There hasn’t been any recent movement on those bills, which means they are likely dead for the session.

“It may not get passed this year … but we’re going to keep trying to get it next year,” Moore said.

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