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Florida ranks high among states for drowning deaths

Published: Apr. 14, 2021 at 8:13 PM CDT
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WALTON COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) -

Between 2017 and 2019, Florida ranked highest for child deaths from drowning, according to the Florida Department of Health.

While that can happen in any body of water, beach safety officials in South Walton want to make sure families visiting their beaches make it home safely.

“We always make sure that we have our eyes on them, and they are down here by our side at all times,” said Morgan Lambert, “When we first got here it was a double red flag, so we took the time to talk to the lifeguards as they were driving by to figure out what the double red flags meant and then when it would be safe for us to go in the water versus when it would not be.”

Beach safety director David Vaughan said keeping yourself educated isn’t the only thing you can do.

Knowing your location on the beach, swimming near a lifeguard tower, and using a boogie board or floatation device with a strap attached to your arm or leg are other ways you can stay safe, according to Vaughan.

South Walton Fire District officials said four people have died after being pulled from the water so far this year.

Two of those were during single red flags.

“If you gamble with the knee-deep is too deep proposition, if you gamble, time is not on your side,” said Vaughan. “The reason we don’t want people getting in the water is, you get hit by one sneaker wave and knocked off your feet, even though you’re knee-deep, and you’re carried out into a rip current, then the game is on.”

No children have drowned in South Walton this year and officials hope that by taking extra precautionary measures it will stay that way.

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