To all parents out there—please watch your children around water this summer. It’s a simple request because, as a parent myself, I was and still am always vigilant when it comes to my 12-year-old son and our pool. He knows how to swim, but my wife and I have to remind ourselves that anything could happen when he’s in that water. That’s why we’re always around him, watching him when he wants to go swimming.
Living in Arizona during the hot summer months means having to find relief after enduring blistering daytime and nighttime temperatures. As a product of the ‘70s, growing up in the ‘80s in Arizona myself, you almost never heard of a fatal drowning in the media. Parents at that time figured that swim lessons were the best defense against drowning or swimming in the kiddie area of the pool. You got into a pool, you cooled off, you had fun and that was it.
As time went on, you heard reports of young children being pulled out of swimming pools with almost tragic results. Children were drowning. Before you knew it, Arizona was being touted as having the highest rates of drowning victims because almost everybody has a pool. Sure, they’re beautiful to look at and serve as a great way to cool off in the summer. But having a pool comes with responsibility.
Water safety tips to prevent tragedy
Every year, Cardon Children’s Medical Center in Mesa and local agencies around Arizona team up to educate and bring awareness about drownings through their Water Safety Campaign.
“Drowning is the leading cause of injury death for children in Arizona, between the ages of 1 and 5 years,” said Tracey Fejt, registered nurse and injury prevention coordinator and outreach manager at Cardon Children’s Medical Center.
“What many people may not know is that there are twice as many fatal adult drownings as fatal child drownings, so it’s a danger to everyone. In 2016, Maricopa, Pinal and Pima counties reported 50 deaths. That’s a lot of drownings. If we can educate the public and remind them about water safety, hopefully we’ll see those numbers decrease.”
The Water Safety Campaign educates parents on ways to protect their children this summer through these simple tips:
- Never leave a child unsupervised in or around water
- Enroll your child in swimming lessons
- Empty buckets and other containers that may hold water and store upside down
- Surround pools and spas with a five-foot-high fence with a self-closing and self-latching gate
- Close and lock toilet lids
- Learn and practice CPR
- Keep rescue equipment, a telephone and emergency numbers poolside
- Wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets when boating, near open bodies of water or when participating in water sports
- Water wings, floaties and air-filled toys are not lifesaving devices
- Feet first, first time when diving into the water
“Parents in Arizona have to remain vigilant all year round when it comes to the water,” Fejt said. “Having a pool means you’re at high risk of having an accident if one should occur. If your child goes to a friend’s house and they have a pool, it’s important to communicate with those parents and find out if they have safety precautions in place with their pool.”
Take action in your community
As a parent, you do everything in your power to protect your child. Sometimes we forget or become complacent that our children are old enough to think and do for themselves. Now that my son is entering the teen years, I’m guilty of sometimes thinking he’s old enough to get himself out of many situations without supervision. But, I have gotten into the routine of supervising him when he’s swimming even if I’m not in the pool with him. If he has a friend over, they’re not allowed in our backyard unless an adult is with them.
Want to do something with your family, neighborhood, scout troop, club or sport team? Interested in rounding up a group to help try to spread the word about drowning prevention?
Make the Water Safety Campaign your own. Water safety kits are available to the public. Scout troops, neighborhood watch groups, clubs, school classrooms—any organization or individual can request kits to help get the word out about preventing child drowning.
Among the kit contents:
- Lifeguard in Charge wrist tag
- Information on how to keep kids safe around canals
- Materials on how to choose a lifejacket
Having a pool in Arizona is great. But making sure you’re doing everything in the world to keep your child safe is priceless!
Also see: Drowning Facts and Myths infographic →