TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Doctors say the Tampa Bay area is seeing an increase in drownings this summer.
8 On Your side spoke with Dr. Patrick Mularoni from All Children’s Hospital who said from March to June they have seen a 150% increase in child drownings. But, not all of those drownings are deadly.
“The definition of drowning is a child that has a respiratory issue with being in the water. It doesn’t necessarily mean it’s fatal and not all drownings are fatal,” said Dr. Patrick Mularoni.
While Florida leads the nation each year in drowning deaths in children under the age of 4, Dr. Mularoni tells 8 On Your Side this recent spike could be linked to the pandemic.
“In looking at the past years data compared to this year, we are seeing a big increase in the number of drownings and it has to be somewhat associated with children being at home and having access to get to the pools at their house,” said Dr. Mularoni.
He adds that parents should have several layers of protection when it comes to the kids and water, like constant supervision, alarms, and barriers. Dr. Mularoni also says swim lessons are another tool to keep kids safe while around water.
8 On Your Side spoke with YMCA of the Suncoast Aquatics Director, Lisa Warren, who suggests parents should introduce their child to the water as early as 6 months old.
“Get them in and acclimated to water early on in life is so much easier when it comes to a time when an instructor will be in the water with them,” said Lisa Warren.
Warren tells 8 On Your Side that all Tampa YMCA’s and YMCA of the Suncoast will be hosting free Water Safety Weeks in August. Parents who are interested in having their kids involved should contact their local YMCA.