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Town near-drownings wake-up call for residents

May. 27, 2006

After four near-drownings this month in Gilbert, residents are watching closely as kids escape the summer heat in backyard pools.

"It kind of shocked us all into taking precautions," said Keri Trippi, a mother of two boys younger than 5.

The near-drowning of an 18-month-old girl on Trippi's street, the 4500 block of East Ironhorse Road, gave parents reason for concern at a neighborhood pool party after the May 18 incident, Trippi said. advertisement

"Nobody was not sitting near the pool when their kids were in," she said.

The Gilbert Fire Department has responded to seven fatal drownings since 2003. None of the five child-drowning calls since January has been fatal.

In Gilbert, about one in every two homes built since 2002 has a pool or hot tub, according to town records. Gilbert does not require homeowners to construct a pool fence if the backyard is fenced in.

That was the case when the 18-month-old girl fell into an unfenced pool as her father worked in the backyard, the Gilbert Fire Department said. The girl's family declined to comment on the experience.

The near-drownings have been a wake-up call to neighbors and those who saw them firsthand.

"You can talk to them (children) until I'm blue in the face, but for them to actually see it was a totally different kind of experience," said Kristin Palmer, a 38-year-old mother of five with a fenced-in pool.

Palmer lives in the 1600 block of East Cullumber Street, where a boy, 7, nearly drowned May 6 during a social gathering.

"Just to see the intensity of everyone's reaction to it was an eye-opener," she said.

Helena Hao, 45, hosted the May 6 party. Hao said she never thought a drowning could happen at her home with several people in the pool and backyard.

Hao said she immediately dialed 911 when the boy was found but CPR done by a doctor at the party was the real lifesaver.

She said she plans to become certified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation so she will be prepared.

"You don't know when you're going to save someone," she said. "We got really luck
Reproduced with permission from:
The Arizona Republic
By Elias C. Arnold
Copyright 2006 Arizona Republic

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