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April Pools Day to focus on safety and fun

May. 1, 2003

Senta Scarborough - It's a fun, free way for families keep cool Saturday, but Mesa officials hope the three-hour water safety event will prevent drowning this summer.

The 16th annual April Pools Day will run from 1 to 4 p.m. at Brimhall Junior High School's aquatic complex at 4949 E. Southern Ave., near Greenfield and Higley roads.

Mesa Fire and the Parks and Recreation departments are sponsoring the event to educate parents and children on water safety.

Other sponsors include the Salt River Project, the Association of Pool and Spa Professionals, and Phoenix Children's Hospital.

Officials said they expect about 800 people.

There will be free swimming and water safety games. Parents can pick up water safety prevention information.

Fire engines, helicopters, Sparky the Fire Dog and the Mesa fire clowns will also be on hand.

An April Pools event with Apache Junction police, fire and parks and recreation staffs also will be held at 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Saturday at the Superstition Shadows Pool on Superstition Boulevard between Ironwood Drive and Idaho Road in Apache Junction.

A free lunch is included.

"Even if we reach one family and prevent a drowning tragedy from occurring, it is a success," said Mary Cameli, deputy chief of the Mesa Fire Department.

"It is important to keep the awareness up, especially as the weather is getting warmer and there will be a lot more people swimming."

Cameli said the event is held each year to remind longtime residents and reach and educate newcomers to the area about the dangers of water.

"We don't want anyone to become complacent with safety," Cameli said.

At 2 p.m., families can watch a mock drowning call. Firefighters and emergency staff will play out what happens when they receive a drowning call.

A helicopter will transport the patient from the pool to a hospital during the scenario.

"They will see what happens and hopefully that will bring the awareness to the forefront that this can happen anywhere," Cameli said.

This year, Mesa so far has had two drownings.

A man was found in a canal in January, and 4-year-old Branen Magda drowned in a bathtub Feb. 2.

Last year, Mesa had 20 water-related incidents with three child drownings.

Reproduced with permission from:
The Arizona Republic
By Stephanie Paterik
Copyright 2003 Arizona Republic

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