200409 Evaluating Awareness and Behaviors Surrounding Drowning Prevention Practices in Broward County Florida

Tuesday, November 10, 2009: 9:15 AM

Deborah A. Mulligan, MD FAAP FACEP , Institute for Child Health Policy, Nova Southeastern University, Fort Lauderdale, FL
Michelle A. Doldren, MPH , Institute for Child Health Policy, Nova Southeastern University, Fort Lauderdale, FL

Among Florida's 67 Counties, Broward has the highest prevalence of mortality due to drowning and highest morbidity due to near death drowning for children under 4 years of age. The purpose of this study was to investigate the drowning prevention awareness, knowledge and preventive measures of caregivers.


Caregivers 18 years of age or older, whose child received services during a pediatric emergency department visit were asked to complete a 7-question survey. Of the 276 total surveys collected; 87 were from residential pool owners.


The majority of survey participants were parents (91%); 78% of whom were aware of the most likely age group at risk for drowning. When asked about supervision, 48% answered “staying in visual contact at all times” while 42% answered “staying within arm's reach of the child”. More than half (56%) of the participants had not received information from a healthcare provider on precautions to prevent drowning. Of those with residential pools the majority utilize pool safety measures.


While the majority of survey participants are aware of ages most likely at risk for drowning; there is inconsistency as to how the caregiver supervises a child near water. Effective public health drowning prevention campaigns must convey uniform, clear, uncluttered messages with easy action steps. More than half of the participants were not provided with childhood drowning prevention education by a healthcare provider, which may serve as a cue to action. Finally, drowning prevention measures are being practiced by those parents and homeowners with residential pools.

Learning Objectives:
Describe the current level of awareness surrounding drowning prevention practices for families with children in Broward County, Florida. Describe the current behavioral practices of families to prevent children from drowning.

Keywords: Children, Injury Prevention

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Board certified pediatric emergency medicine physician with over 50 publications in the field. Ten year history of drowning prevention research in the state of Florida as well as advocay in contribution to pool barrier legislation.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.