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Warm weather brings pool safety warnings

March 20, 2008

As warm temperatures creep their way into the Valley, so do preventable pool drownings, safety advocates say.

Last year, there were 14 recorded cases of children drowning in Maricopa County, said Tiffaney Isaacson, water safety coordinator for Water Watchers at Phoenix Children's Hospital.

In 2006, 10 children drowned.

Isaacson said that as springtime approaches, it's essential that Valley residents educate themselves on pool safety, especially in Gilbert, where families with children make up a large portion of the population.

Seven Gilbert children drowned from 2000 to 2006, although there are no reported cases in 2007, Isaacson said.

Carol Achs' grandson, Weston Letter, drowned in 1998 in his Gilbert home.

He was 3 years old.

"We just never know and it changes your life forever," Achs said.

Since Weston's death, Achs and her daughter Druann Letter, Weston's mom, have advocated pool safety.

They founded the organization Water Watchers, which the Phoenix Children's Hospital later adopted.

Water Watchers promotes the "ABC's" of water safety - three simple ways to prevent drownings.

"A" is for adults, the main key to maintaining pool safety. Adults should keep eye contact with children at all times around all forms of water, Isaacson said.

"B" is for barriers between children and water. Isaacson said even people who don't have children should properly barricade a pool. Most Valley cities and towns have ordinances that require pools to have fences around them, but Gilbert voters shot down such an ordinance in 2001.

"C" is for classes in CPR and swimming lessons for children.

"When you use all three prongs you find a way families can really enjoy themselves around the water," Isaacson said.

In addition to the ABC's, families should perform a spring cleaning around their pool area and make sure all tree limbs are trimmed and there are no objects that could hurt children.

Pool gates should also be routinely checked.

Reproduced with permission from:
The Arizona Republic
Astrid Galvan
Copyright 2008 Arizona Republic

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