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Water safety 101

June 2, 2009

Child drownings are "swift and silent," according to the Phoenix Fire Department, and drowning is the leading cause of death for children younger than 4 in Arizona. Brain damage can occur within four to six minutes of submersion.

The Fire Department recommends parents consider the following this summer:

Eye-to-eye contact.

Not only should parents maintain eye contact with their children around water, but children are encouraged to keep an eye on their parents. Experts said the simple lesson encourages children to be as mindful of their surroundings as adults are. Parents should assign an adult to watch children around the pool if they have to leave the area.

Secure barriers.

Secure doors and pool fences are secondary to eye-to-eye supervision. Experts recommend a variety of security devices, ranging from electronic equipment that automatically shuts the back door to $3 twist locks that are easily installed. Parents should be aware of every single door or fence at home, including pet doors that small children are able to slide through undetected if they are unlocked.

CPR and swim training.

In case of an emergency, parents confident in their CPR techniques have the ability to save their child's life before firefighters arrive. Older children and other adults are encouraged to take classes as well. Swimming lessons provide children with the basics of how to use the pool safely.

Educate your family

Experts recommend these Web sites for more information about such water-safety topics as pool-fence ordinances and CPR training: Tempe-based water-safety advocate Ed Swift charts information ranging from safety tips to individual drowning stories. The Drowning Prevention Coalition of Arizona lists coming safety events, tips and other resources. Phoenix Children's Hospital includes CPR-class schedules and downloadable curriculum on its Water Watchers program page.

Reproduced with permission from:
The Arizona Republic

©Copyright 2009 Arizona Republic

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