Swim Safely Osceola
From white sand beaches to crystal-clear springs and rivers, & the most popular theme park and resort pools anywhere in the world, Central Florida offers a variety of options for aquatic recreation. Unfortunately, with so much water nearby, our first responders have seen a record number of calls related to drownings in recent years, particularly drowning incidents related to children.
According to data from the Florida Department of Health:
From 2017 to 2019 combined, Florida was ranked the highest in the U.S. for unintentional drowning death rate among children ages 1 to 4 years (6.29 per 100,000 population). Florida had the highest unintentional drowning death rate of 3.28 per 100,000 population among children 0 to 9 years of age compared to other states.
This wholly preventable tragedy resulted in more than 90 calls for service from our department in 2021 alone, a record number. Of these, more than 80 involved children, and the majority involved children visiting Osceola County from elsewhere in the state, nation, or internationally. #SwimSafelyOsceola was developed as a way for local businesses to benefit from displaying swim safety messaging on their outdoor signage – helping visitors to be reminded the importance of keeping their families safe.
As a department, we continue to work to develop ways to better care for and more quickly transport drowning victims to treatment, but before tragedy strikes, there are steps we all can take so drownings do not happen in the first place.
THE ABCs of swimming safety
A is for ADULT SUPERVISION
Near water, all children should be supervised by a designated, sober adult. Teens or older children should never be the only ones responsible for the safety of younger children around pools or other bodies of water. Supervising adults should be able to pull children from the water in the event of an emergency, and should be able to hail a lifeguard or call 911 if needed.
B is for BARRIERS
Door locks, pool fence gates, and audible pool alarms can be annoyances to unlock and replace each time you want to swim in your backyard pool, but they are there for your safety. Children should be taught to respect these barriers, and the pool area should be secured each time you finish swimming.
C is for CLASSES
With so many opportunities to swim in Central Florida, classes on swim instruction are almost a must for everyone, no matter your age. Classes are available through the following:
- Makinson Aquatic Center, 2204 Denn John Ln, Kissimmee, FL 34744 (Temporarily closed)
- Chris Lyle Aquatic Center, 2991 17th St, St Cloud, FL 34769
- Mary Jane Arrington Gym & Aquatic Center, 625 Country Club Dr, Poinciana, FL 34758
- Various YMCA locations
- Privately through groups or companies.
If the cost of enrolling children in swim lessons is not affordable, local funding opportunities through 501(3)(c) nonprofits such as the Team Kareem Foundation exist. You can apply for a swim scholarship by using this link.
For adults, First Aid and CPR certification classes are recommended. These can be taken through the American Red Cross. Unfortunately, Osceola County Fire Rescue & EMS does not offer First Aid and CPR certified training at this time.
Drowning prevention information, resources, events, and State laws
Tips on water safety for children and families.