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Hospital hangs purple ribbons for drowning awareness

July 26, 2008

A day after a 2-year-old Mesa girl drowned in a backyard swimming pool, volunteers convened at Phoenix Children's Hospital Saturday morning to raise awareness about the Valley wide drowning crisis.

Nine children have drowned in Maricopa County this year. In June, four children drowned in less than two weeks.

On Saturday morning, helpers tied purple ribbons on hospital trees to spread the word about drowning prevention during August.

The ribbons are purple to commemorate the favorite color of Derek Gonzalez, 3, of Mesa, who drowned in a neighbor's unfenced pool in 2004.

"We want to honor Derek and all the other children who have died from drownings," said Tiffaney Isaacson, water safety coordinator for the Water Watchers program at Phoenix Children's Hospital.

The effort was part of the hospital's Drowning Impact Awareness Month campaign, which officially kicks off Tuesday.Isaacson suggested that parents talk to their children about pool safety. Checking your pool fence and taking CPR classes can also help, she said.

"We talk to our kids about stranger danger. We tell them about the dangers of the internet," she said. "But we don't talk about pool drownings."

Volunteer and mother Claudia Ochoa called the undertaking a "reminder."

"You just have to watch your kids all the time," said Ochoa, who brought along her niece, Anaid Ochoa, 9, to tie ribbons.

The two agreed that drownings must be prevented.

"If the awareness of the ribbon enlightens one person to save their child, then we saved a life," Ochoa said.

Reproduced with permission from:
The Arizona Republic
Beth Duckett
Copyright 2008 Arizona Republic

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