Seal Swim School in South Tampa offers free classes for newborns up to five months of age
Plant City, Florida - The summer swimming season is underway, and once again it's starting on a sad note in the Bay Area.
Near Plant City, family members were gathering at a home in the 8800 Block of South County Line Road where one-year-old Kathen Mayo was found floating in the backyard pool yesterday.
He died at a local hospital.
Cassie Hobbs, a neighbor, who'd seen the emergency vehicles outside the home, was shocked and saddened.
"I'm so sorry that that happened. That's horrible - and I feel really bad," she said.
Pools can be great source of recreation in the summer, but drowning is still the leading cause of death among young children.
The statistics are grim in Florida, where drowning continues to be the number one cause of death for children ages four and under. Close to a hundred per year. And two thirds of the time, involving a swimming pool.
And in so many cases, officials say it's avoidable.
Dannielle Adkins, an instructor at Seal Swim School in South Tampa says when it comes to children in Florida, parents "absolutely have to teach them how to swim."
Adkins says it's never too early to start learning. They even offer free classes for newborns up to five months.
"Six months is a good starting point that has been approved by a lot of doctors and physicians. But you can start them as early as you want," said Adkins.
At stores like Leslie's Pool Supplies they sell all sorts of safety gadgets, from screen fences to gates, alarms for doors and windows and even motion detectors.
But equally important they say is maintaining clear, algae-free visibility through pool maintenance.
The department of Children and Families recognizes these are often avoidable tragedies. So they're now offering free door alarms in the 10 counties with the most child drownings. Including Hillsborough, Pinellas, and Polk.
And if the alarm sounds?
"The first place you'd look is the body of water. Look in your pool. Check to make sure there's not a child who's fallen in that," said Erin Gillespie, a spookesperson for DCF.
To get one of those free door alarms, just contact your county health department or simply click here and look for the "Access Health Services" section on the page.