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Drowning Deaths Are On The Rise, According To CDC; A New Florida Law Could Help

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Greater access to swimming lessons is key in curbing the rise in unintentional drowning deaths as more than 4,500 people have drowned each year from 2020-2022, according to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A law Gov. Ron DeSantis signed last month will give low-income families vouchers for swimming lessons.

The study published Tuesday, states that the highest drowning rates occur among children between one and four years old, adults over 65, and Indigenous, Alaska Native and Black people.

Additionally, almost 40 million adults surveyed indicated they didn’t know how to swim, and 54.7% had never taken a lesson. While most white adults (52%) stated that they had taken swimming lessons, only 28% of Hispanic people and 37% of Black people had taken lessons, according to the CDC study.

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“No one should have to lose a loved one to drowning. Improving access to effective prevention strategies, like basic swimming and water safety skills training, can reduce drowning risk,” said Tessa Clemens, the lead author of the report, said in a press release. “CDC provides expertise, support, and resources to increase drowning prevention efforts among communities and individuals at highest risk of drowning.”

Revitalizing public pools, promoting water safety lessons, and hiring diverse aquatic staff to adapt to communities in need are some of the recommendations from the CDC.

Soon, Florida families with children under five will be able to get free swimming lessons for their kids. A law that goes into effect on July 1 establishes the Swimming Lesson Voucher Program for families with an income lower than 200% of the federal poverty level, which is $31,200 for a family of four.

The Florida Department of Health will be in charge of creating a network of vendors and implementing the program. For the 2024-2025 fiscal year, the department will get $500,000 in nonrecurrent funds to run the program.

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This article originally appeared here and was republished with permission.

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