City of Tampa asks families to take precautions around water this Summer
TAMPA, Fla. (Tampa Bay Now) - As the weather is heating up, and people are spending more time at beaches and pools, the City of Tampa is encouraging families to be careful around the water.
The city is now offering free swim lessons to children and adults, and encouraging different safety measures.
City of Tampa leaders say 97 children have drowned in the Tampa Bay Area over the last nine years, and that's a number they don't want to see go up anymore. That's why they are asking families to take precautions this Summer.
"It's one of the hardest things I have to do, it's very difficult to even talk about. You have to put yourself in a different place when doing autopsies on children. Some times I cry. I cant help it," said Kelly Devers, the Chief Medical Examiner for Hillsborough County.
Kelly Devers says it's too often that she sees children brought in after drowning.
"Last year we had eight children who drowned in residential pools, ponds, or above ground pools. This year so far we have had three," said Devers.
She says even one child drowning is too many.
"It can devastate a family. It can split a family apart, each person blames themselves or blames the other person. The guilt is incredible," said Devers.
"We see children come in especially around the holidays, birthdays, when there's a lot of celebrations going on," said Babette Bailey with the St. Josephs Children's Hospital.
Bailey says children can drown very quickly.
"Families will walk inside for just a minute to grab a quick phone call, post a social media post, and it only takes 20 seconds for a child to end up at the bottom of the pool," said Bailey.
And as the weather starts to get hotter and Summer activities begin, the City of Tampa is asking families to be vigilant.
"Pool fences around the pool, there are different devices you can put into the water that set off alarms, having alarms on your doors are important," said Bailey.
Hard to reach locks on doors can prevent children from getting outside. City leaders also say it's important to keep an eye on children in a pool or at a beach at all times, and to pay attention to your surroundings.
"Where's the deep end, where is the shallow end, where does the beach fall at this point of the Gulf, are there rip currents at this location?" said Peggy Lenny with the City of Tampa.
The city is also offering free swim lessons to children from six months old all the way up to adults to families who qualify.
"There's no room for error. 20 seconds is 20 seconds. That's not long at all," said Devers.
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