“School is out for the summer, grandkids are in town and the scorching weather often means play time at the pool.
But complacency, a lack of preparation and failure to watch kids around water can lead to a tragedy. ”A drowning is preventable,” said Holli Sandeen, community relations specialist for the Sun City West Fire District. “(People) think it could never happen to (their) family but each year more than 800 children drown.”
Sandeen said last year in Arizona alone there were 153 water-related incidents and 49 deaths, including 16 children.So far in 2009, she said, there have been 80 water-related incidents reported and seven deaths for children.
“Supervision is the key word when it comes to pool safety but supervision combined with a variety of barriers and safety devices — fences, latched gates, locked doors, pool covers and more — goes even further toward drowning prevention,” she said.
Sun City Fire Marshal Ken Rice said the simplest tip is also the most important.
“Never leave children out of your sight,” Rice said. “They should always be within arm’s reach.”
Rice said an unfortunate truth about drownings is that many can be prevented just by being a little more attentive.
“Drowning is silent,” Rice said. “In Hollywood, drownings they show a lot of splashing and yelling but this is untrue. Most children just end up at the bottom of the pool. This is why you see so many cases of a group of people at a party and none of them witness the drowning.”
The following are tips provided by the Sun City Fire Department and the Sun City West Fire District to keep children safe around water:
• Never leave a child unattended in water for any reason. Don’t be distracted by doorbells, phone calls, chores or conversations. If you must leave the pool area, take the child with you, making sure the pool gate latches securely when it closes.
• Always be within an arm’s reach of a child younger than 5 who is in or around water.
• Always watch children when they are in water. Designate a child watcher to prevent gaps in supervision when children are visiting.
• Children older than three should receive swimming lessons but children should not be considered “drown proof” because they have been enrolled in swimming lessons.
• Don’t rely on “floaties” or other inflatable toys to protect children in water.
• Keep rescue equipment such as hooks, poles or life preservers and a phone by the pool.
• Keep all doors and windows leading to a pool secure, including pet doors.
• If a child is missing, check the pool first. Go to the edge of the pool and scan the entire pool, bottom and surface, as well as the surrounding pool area.
• Place tables, chairs, toys and storage chests away from the pool fences to prevent children from climbing in the pool area.
• Instruct baby sitters or caregivers about the dangers water may pose and make sure they are constantly supervising children around water.
For information about pool safety, or to sign up for a CPR class, call the Sun City Fire Department at 623-974-2321 or the Sun City West Fire District at 623-584-3500.”
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