NCH advocates look to teach prevention tactics after recent SWFL child drownings

Reporter: Sydney Persing Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:
Charlotte County to begin handing out masks at county owned pools. Credit: WINK News.

The push is on to save the lives of children near water in Southwest Florida. It comes after four separate child drownings in the last three weeks. One Collier hospital system is taking the initiative to inform the public about what can be done to prevent future drownings.

Drowning prevention advocates with Naples Community Hospital are working to educate people in Southwest Florida about how quickly an innocent poolside oversight can become deadly.

“I knew of a little girl, she was two and a half, who drowned on Marco Island,” said Terri Ballo, a prevention advocate with NCH. “I used to live on Marco, and my daughter was three and a half, and I attended that funeral. It was the worst funeral I ever attended.”

The news of four children who died in drownings across Lee, Collier and Charlotte counties has been heartbreaking for Ballo and the public at large. Ballo works with NCH Safe & Healthy Children’s Coalition. In light of the recent spike in child drownings, the coalition is pleading with parents to be vigilant when children are near or in water.

Ballo say parents need to invest in multiple layers of protection.

“Door alarms on sliding glass doors,” Ballo said. “Door locks that are high up that a child can’t reach, pool fences with self-latching locks, so that they can’t be opened by the child, swim lessons.

Florida is ranked as one of the worst states for drowning fatalities in the country.

“In Florida we fell about three to four kindergarten classrooms a year of kids to drowning,” Ballo said.

And local experts want people in Southwest Florida to know that now is the time to go the extra mile to keep kids safe.

NCH Safe & Healthy Children’s Coalition is holding a public call to action meeting 9 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 29. They hope to educate community members about all different ways to keep family members safe in the water.

“You don’t think it’s gonna happen to you,” Ballo said. “But it happens to all kinds of people. It doesn’t discriminate.”

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