How Hillsborough County is Tackling Drowning Head On
Living in Hillsborough County goes hand-in-hand with living around water, but for some it doesn't always go with knowing how to swim. That's why Hillsborough County continues to expand its Swim Safety Initiative and recently added the Public Pool Inspection Program.
In 2015, Hillsborough County started the Swim Safety Initiative pilot program with its Head Start and Parks & Recreation departments to try to help decrease the number of children who die from drowning, as well as educate the community on the importance of knowing how to swim. The initiative teaches and tests students to ensure they have all the tools to swim safely. Through the use of four categories - Enter/Exit Ability, Submerging Skills, Floating and Propulsion, and Safety Recognition - the initiative has seen its students' progression rate go from 73% to 90% during last year alone.
Since the initiative's inception, more than 6,000 students have taken swim lessons but for Hillsborough County that wasn't enough.
In early March, the Board of County Commissioners approved additional funding to ensure that every student enrolled in Head Start has the opportunity to access swim lessons by 2020. The additional funding not only covers all students in the 19 Hillsborough County Head Starts but also all the students in the 56 Hillsborough County School District Head Starts - a 247% increase in children served since the first year of the program in 2015.
But the County isn't stopping there in its fight against drownings. Hillsborough County Code Enforcement has established an inspectional program for all public pools throughout the unincorporated county to ensure public pools used by residents are up to code, including proper enclosure and signage to prevent accidental drownings. Code Enforcement will conduct the onsite inspections every year prior to peak swim season.
No matter the time of year though, the County continues to work with residents and partners to bring awareness to drownings - which are 100% preventable.