Vacation rental management association offers swimming safety tips to prevent future drownings

Orlando Health reported 266% increase in water-related injuries for March, April

ORLANDO, Fla. – The Florida Vacation Rental Management Association is teaming up with Orlando Health to increase awareness after a recent increase in pediatric drownings.

The safety campaign comes weeks after a News 6 investigation showed drownings among children have increased dramatically, mainly at vacation rentals.

A Brooklyn family renting a vacation home in Osceola County made a frantic call to 911 earlier this year after finding their 4-year-old unresponsive in the pool.

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Dr. Donald Plumley is a pediatric trauma doctor at Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children and says the calls are happening way too often.

“We’re at record numbers,” Plumley said. “We’ve seen a big increase in drownings and it has us concerned.”

Rafael Neves, the co-chair of the Florida Vacation Rental Management Association, said the group is getting out the word to all their property managers.

“We take care of these homes as if they’re our homes,” Neves said. “It gets personal. You never want to see someone drowning at your house, right?”

Vacation rental managers have always taken precautions like double-locking doors and baby gates around pools, according to Neves.

Member vacation rentals will post flyers with swim safety information around the water, according to Neves.

“They’re going to be out on the pool gates, the guest books inside the property,” Neves said. “They will also be emailed to the guests as part of their reservation.”

Florida VRMA has also partnered with Orlando Health and this week offered a pool and water safety webinar to all of its members.

Courtney Gleaton is Orlando Health’s injury prevention coordinator.

“This video is the perfect example of why we’re having this talk today,” Gleaton said.

News 6′s previous report on drownings was shared as part of the training.

In March and April of this year, Orlando Health saw a 266% increase in injuries related to water submersions compared to March and April of 2020, according to Gleaton.

“We just kept seeing patients come in for drowning and we were like what is going on?” Gleaton said, adding “We found it best to educate everyone and see how we can prevent this from happening at all.”

Trauma doctors teach the ABC’s to water safety.

A-- stands for adult supervision.

B -- stands for barriers having a fence around the pool and locks and alarms on the doors leading to the pool.

C -- stands for classes, swim lessons for children and CPR classes for adults.

Drowning is the leading cause of injury-related death in children 4 years old and younger, according to Orlando Health. Experts say it is the third leading cause of unintentional death for people 19 and under, and 88% of drownings take place under some supervision.

About the Author:

Emmy Award-winning reporter Louis Bolden joined the News 6 team in September of 2001 and hasn't gotten a moment's rest since. Louis has been a General Assignment Reporter for News 6 and Weekend Morning Anchor. He joined the Special Projects/Investigative Unit in 2014.