Mar 082011

Arizona tied with Pennsylvania for having the third-highest number of childhood drownings or near-drownings since Memorial Day weekend.

In a report released Tuesday by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, Arizona had 11 water-related incidents involving those younger than 15. Texas, with 15 incidents, led the list, followed by Florida, with 13.

The numbers are part of a 2011 “Summer Snapshot” of 123 cases since the end of May.

Although Arizona’s numbers are down from last year’s total of 30 during the same time period, even one incident is too many, said Kathleen Reilly, a spokeswoman for the agency, an independent federal regulatory commission.

“We still have a problem that we need to talk about being safer around water,” Reilly said Tuesday during a news conference in Phoenix, part of a “call to action” to cities, aquatic facilities and the community to ignite their push to prevent drownings. “Simple steps save lives.”

With the July Fourth weekend approaching, she urged “extra vigilance.”

Reilly credited the commission’s “Pool Safely” national campaign (, now in its second year, for helping make people more aware of the drowning danger. And it’s a message that she wants people to see as needed not just for the safety of children but adults as well.

Reilly and others who spoke at the event delivered a blunt message for adults, telling them they need to learn to swim if they are going to be watching over children. And adults need to watch over other adults as well, Reilly said.

Since the beginning of the year in the Maricopa County area, 23 people have drowned, 12 of them adults.

Connie Harvey, an aquatics manager for the American Red Cross, said more than a third of adults who participated in a recent survey said they had little to no swimming skills.

“People need to know what to do in an emergency. . . . You never know what safety measure will save a child’s life until it does,” Harvey said.

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