Arizona ranks second in the nation in child drowning, and summer months bring increased incidents. It's a tragedy that knows no bounds, and it is completely preventable. For the fifth consecutive year, the Water Watchers program, led by Phoenix Children's Hospital along with Arizona fire departments and local businesses, is recognizing August as Drowning Impact Awareness Month. Queen Creek is joining the efforts.
Drowning can be completely avoided by following these important and lifesaving rules:
• Maintain constant adult supervision at all times. Constant adult supervision means eye-to-eye contact.
• Install an independent fence or barrier completely surrounding the pool. Fences should be 5 feet high. Gates should be self-closing and self-latching, opening outward, away from the pool.
• Install additional "layers of protection" (e.g., safety covers, door alarms, motion-detection devices).
• Inspect and maintain barriers regularly.
• Keep items that can be used for climbing away from pool fences.
• All doors and windows leading to the pool should be secured and locked at all times.
• Assign an adult Water Watcher to supervise the pool/spa area, especially during social gatherings.
• Don't rely on swimming lessons, life preservers or any other equipment to make a child "water safe."
• Look in the pool area first if a child is missing.
• Mount rescue equipment by the pool, such as a lifesaving ring, shepherd's hook and CPR sign.
• Have a phone near the pool. Post the 911 emergency telephone number on the phone along with the physical address of the pool.
• Never keep toys around or in a pool.
Developing and following a safety plan can save a life. Be sure to practice the ABCs of water safety: Adult supervision when children have access to water is critical. Barriers must be placed between children and water. An effective barrier could have prevented 95 percent of the drownings studied by the Arizona Child Fatality Review Team. Classes in CPR for adults, and swimming lessons for children at the appropriate age, can round out a family's water-safety plan.
Since Drowning Impact Awareness Month began in August 2004, more than 125,000 purple ribbons have been distributed. Purple ribbons serve as a reminder of the impact that every drowning and near drowning has upon the victim, as well as family members, friends, emergency personnel and the entire community. Purple ribbons also remind us to take steps to be water-safe in our own neighborhoods.
Queen Creek is handing out purple ribbons and other literature, which can be picked up at Town Hall, 22350 S. Ellsworth Road, or by calling 480-358-3028.
Reproduced with permission from:
The Arizona Republic
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