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Firefighters push water-safety awareness

May 21, 2008

With school almost out and summer on the way, kids across the Valley will soon head to local pools to escape the Arizona heat.

But as the mercury rises, so does the risk of tragedy. In 2007, 14 children drowned in Maricopa County. The Glendale Fire Department is working to lower that number in 2008. On Saturday, the department will host a Water Safety Awareness Day at Rose Lane Aquatics Center.

"We're doing everything we possibly can to bring awareness to the entire community, children, parents, baby-sitters and everyone, to let them know how important it is to watch children around water," said Daniel Valenzuela, public information officer for the Glendale Fire Department. "It literally takes one second, one inch of water for us to lose a child."

Saturday's event will have plenty of fun activities for kids and adults, including clowns and raffles. But it will have a serious side as well.

"We are going to simulate a drowning call for the public to see," Valenzuela said. "We will have a child in the pool being rescued by a lifeguard, then the Glendale Fire Department arriving and airlifting the child to the hospital by helicopter."

It may sound shocking and dramatic, but Valenzuela believes that the public needs to see a drowning rescue to fully understand the need for water safety in the community.

"People hear safety information all the time, but there is nothing that will beat the actual visual, showing just how a drowning hurts our community," he said. "Just a couple days ago we lost a little 15-month-old boy in a Glendale pool drowning. That family will never be the same. Drowning is a silent killer that happens far too often in the Valley."


Reproduced with permission from:
The Arizona Republic
Michael Senft
Copyright 2008 Arizona Republic

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