Commissioner Stacy White Honors Water Smart Tots
Spurred by the drowning epidemic that faces our County, a group of community members unite to ensure not one more child drowns.
HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, FL (April 23, 2019) – There were 88 fatal child drownings in Florida pools or spas in 2018- a spike compared to 2017 when there were 54 fatal child drownings in the state. According to figures released by the Florida Department of Children and Families, Hillsborough County again led the state as the county with the most child drownings in 2018. The drownings last year involved children 15 and younger, with 76 percent involving children age 3 and under.
Another six children drowned in Pasco County — two more than in 2017 — and one in Pinellas County. Statewide, the number of child drowning deaths was up 7 percent from 2017, according to Florida Department of Children and Families data.
There is some good news! According to the Department of Children and Families, the number of pediatric drownings for 2019 are down - way down! “We would like to believe that our efforts are paying off”, said Bahour. After reading an article in the Tampa Tribune where 4 children under age 4 drowned in the Tampa Bay area on Mother’s Day weekend in 2014, she felt that we were failing as a community in the area of promoting awareness. Being a drowning prevention advocate for more than 15+ years after her infant son experienced a nonfatal drowning, she felt that she too was just not doing enough to ensure this preventable tragedy didn’t happen to another family.
Since their inception in 2014, Water Smart Tots has raised over $60,000 to fund their scholarship program and has provided specialized, survival swim scholarships for one-on-one, self-rescue lessons to approximately 250+ under-deserved children ages 1 to 6 years in the Tampa Bay area.
Survival swimming lessons teach the vulnerable infant or young child how to solve an aquatic problem by swimming, rolling back to float, rest and breathe; then flip over to resume swimming to safety (swim-float-swim). These skills are needed in case supervision breaks down or a safety fence or barrier does not exit. Survival swimming skills provide that extra layer of protection for the infant or young child to have a chance at surviving an accidental fall into the water.
In an effort to promote awareness through education, Water Smart Tots has also provided in-classroom water safety education to more than 2,200 preschoolers in the Bay area. New for 2019, Water Smart Tots will be implementing a new program called, “Every Family, Water Smart” which encompasses reaching local families before their children reach the water. This will be accomplished through making water safety literature available at pediatrician offices, OBGYN offices, hospitals and the school districts are just to name a few.
Commissioner Stacy White will recognize the hard work performed by Water Smart Tots’ dedicated volunteers by making a proclamation at the May 1st Board of County Commissioners Meeting that the month of May is Hillsborough County’s Water Safety Awareness Month. May was chosen as it coincides with National Water Safety Month.
Media are invited to attend the BOCC meeting that begins at 9 AM and for more information, please contact Kari Bahour at WaterSmartTots@gmail.com or 813-802-9963.