With 93 children lost to drowning in 2023, Orlando State Representative Rita Harris, a Democrat, has filed House Bill 1207, which would establish fundamental drowning prevention measures for short-term vacation rentals with swimming pools like Airbnb and Vrbo.
If passed, HB 1207 would establish basic safety measures for any short-term vacation rental with a swimming pool to decrease the risk of drownings. Some of these safety measures include making guests aware that there is a swimming pool on property, maintaining a lifebuoy on property, posting depth markers, and posting signage to include responsible swimming practices.
According to the Florida Department of Children and Families, there were 93 child fatalities related to drowning in 2023. Of those cases, two-thirds were in swimming pools, and 9 incidents occurred while the family was on vacation. Florida has one of the highest unintentional death rates for drowning in the country, partly due to the number of swimming pools and natural bodies of water.
“Any child lost to drowning is a tragedy, especially when they are largely preventable with proper education and safety measures. We must do more to prevent these lost lives. My goal with this bill is to ensure that drowning is prevented in simple ways that are not burdensome to short-term rental property owners and managers,” said Orlando Democratic State Rep. Harris. She says that similar measures are already in place for other vacationing spots such as resorts and hotels, but that statute needs to be specifically written to include newer short-term rentals such as Airbnb and Vrbo amid increasing drownings in Florida.
“We already have some of these regulations on the books for resorts and hotels, and need to be expanded to include the growing market of vacation rentals. Regardless of where they stay, Floridians and tourists who visit our state must be safe for the entirety of their visit, and leave Florida with good, safe memories,” she added.
The legislation has been filed for the 2024 Florida legislative session, and if successful, the bill will become effective on July 1st of this year.