Summer is a time when children and families have the opportunity to spend quality time together. It is a busy time for parents and caregivers to keep their children and teenagers active and involved in prosocial activities. Summer also poses an increased risk for Florida’s children in many ways. Florida contains more than 30,000 lakes and ranks 7th in the nation in percentage of water area within the state. The heat, pools, swimming, lakes, and idol time can all result in unfortunate circumstances, many of which are avoidable if precautions are taken.

According to FloridaHealth.Gov,

“Florida loses more children under age five to drowning than any other state. Annually in Florida, enough children to fill three to four preschool classrooms drown and do not live to see their fifth birthday.

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. Florida had the second highest drowning rate in the nation for the 1–14 year old age group with a drowning rate of 2.54 per 100,000 population.”

Last week the nation watched in heartache for the family from Nebraska who were vacationing at Disney and lost their child while enjoying an evening together by the lake. What was intended to be a memorable family time together turned –into a tragedy.

Similarly, a 3 year old child in Houston, Texas lost his life last week due to the extreme heat after crawling into the family vehicle unable to open the car door due to the child safety locks. These incidents are reminders of the vital importance of summer safety, close supervision and how quickly an unanticipated incident can turn tragic.

In addition to the environmental threats that exist, idol time also poses a risk during the summer and school holidays. It is important to keep youth engaged in activities, community service, and sports and camps during the summer. There are many temptations and risks facing our youth today and keeping them active and occupied reduces the risk of them engaging in unhealthy behaviors. It also builds their self-confidence, self-esteem, and increases their sense of purpose and meaning.

Together, we can build a safer community to ensure our children and youth grow up healthy.

To ensure this summer school break is a good one for all, visit the websites below.

In order to ensure all measures are taken to keep our children safe through education on water safety please visit

To learn more about car safety please visit:

Have a safe, happy and healthy summer!

Dr. Patricia Nellius