TAMPA, Fla. (CW44 News at 10) – After a record number of deaths from drowning in Florida, Tampa Bay fire rescue teams are taking extra steps to educate you and your family about water safety.
“A lot of different departments have given out water safety kits to schools. There have been life-jacket giveaways, ”explained Summer Mahr, a public educator with Largo Fire Rescue.
READ MORE: The White House Honors The Tampa Bay Lightning
The Florida Department of Children and Families reported 97 drownings in 2021 – 28 more than the previous year. 68% percent of those who died were age 3 and younger.
“We see a lot of different housing, short term rentals come up. Even if they don’t have a child living there, all of the different people and residents visiting out area might be staying in those homes, ”said Mahr.
Largo fire rescue educators say water safety starts inside.
“So, the first layer is going to start with the parent or guardian being able to have consistent, constant supervision of their child. The second step is making sure that there are child proof locks on the doors. Having door alarms in case the children try to get out, ”she said. Then it continues outside. “So having a pool fence or a gate around your pool is imperative,” he said. And that’s not only for children who live there, but those who live nearby, too.
READ MORE: SpaceX All-Private Astronaut Mission Splashes Down Successfully After A Week Of Delays
Another step is to avoid tempting toys in the pool.
“Even having an alarm on the pool in case the water gets moved,” Mahr explained. Other suggestions include swimming lessons and CPR lessons.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the best time for a child to start learning to swim is between the ages of 1 and 4.
According to the CDC, drowning is the leading cause of death in children aged 1 and 4. A Florida law – the “Every Child a Swimmer” law – could change that. It will go into effect this school year, 2022-2023, requiring public schools in the state of Florida to ask parents if their child has taken swim lessons. If not, schools are required to provide swim safety materials.
For more resources, click here.
MORE NEWS: Heroic Child To Receive Commendation For Alerting Family To A Fire In His Home
Tampa Fire Rescue held an education session on water safety as well as Wednesday. For more information from Tampa Fire Rescue, click here.