School is out and it is time for summer fun and outdoor activities. However, with increased activities, comes additional risks, most of which are avoidable.  Living in Florida poses some unique risks that we need to be mindful of in keeping children safe from harm.  Florida has venomous spiders, snakes, and of course alligators and sharks, that pose a danger in our natural habitat.

Additionally, Florida is known as the lightning capital of the nation. According to an analysis of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather data, in the last 10 years, the U.S. has averaged 30 lightning fatalities per year, with Florida totaling 52 fatalities, 17 percent of the 304 total fatalities.  This far outdistanced Texas, the state with the second highest number of fatalities (21), during that same time period. To ensure safety during storms NOAA outlines the following safety tips:

  • Avoid open fields, the top of a hill or a ridge top.
  • Stay away from tall, isolated trees or other tall objects. If you are in a forest, stay near a lower stand of trees.
  • If you are in a group, spread out to avoid the current traveling between group members.
  • If you are camping in an open area, set up camp in a valley, ravine or other low area. Remember, a tent offers NO protection from lighting.
  • Stay away from water, wet items, such as ropes, and metal objects, such as fences and poles. Water and metal do not attract lightning but they are excellent conductors of electricity. The current from a lightning flash will easily travel for long distances [1].

While the Florida sun attracts many tourists to our state, the heat and exposure to the sun also poses a significant risk of injury.   One of the most preventable related safety issues is children being left unattended in the car, which is a crime in the State of Florida. According to Kalhan Rosenblat of NBC News [2], since 1994, 804 children have died from heat-related illnesses in cars in the United States, according to Kids and Cars, an advocacy center that conducts research on car-related dangers surrounding child. In approximately 55 percent of those cases, the parent was unaware the child was in the vehicle. Texas leads the nation in child hot car deaths, and just last week, four children died in the state. In one case, a 7-month-old passed away after his father forgot he was in the car. In another, a 3-year-old died after he hid in an unlocked car and couldn’t get out. These four deaths bring the 2017 country-wide total to 16.

The number of child deaths resulting from being left unattended in cars has greatly reduced in the U.S., as there has been increased media campaigns over the past few years to better educate the public on the danger of leaving children unattended in a car. Additionally, many states are passing laws to make it a crime to leave a child alone in a vehicle. There are currently 19 states that have passed laws making it illegal to leave a child unattended in a car [3].

Another safety risk posed, particularly in our area, is water safety, particularly due to the number of lakes and pools existing in Florida. It is important to ensure your pool is secured from access by a child and to have children attend a swim class to acquire the skills necessary to survive, should they accidentally fall into a pool or lake.

Summer is a time for families to bond and vacation, and for children to engage in healthy outdoor activities. Please take the time to educate your children on safety tips and ensure you safety-proof your home from preventable tragedy.  I hope that you have a wonder and safe summer.