June 2011 Safety Tip


Summer Fun/Summer Fatality

Ahh! It’s summer and the living is easy. Relax by the pool, cook out, hang out at the lake, relaxing on the boat, what could be better? How about a year without a drowning?

The Drowning Coalition of Arizona published their 2009 annual report providing statistics on drowning in the state. In that report they provide the following information:

  • “In the United States, drowning remains the second leading cause of accidental death among children ages 1 to 14.”
  • Fire department and news clippings “reported 103 serious water-related incidents in Maricopa County among persons of all ages. This is average for the number of serious cases since 1990.”
  • “Most incidents took place in pools, either above ground or in ground, 74 (71.8%) of the 103 events.
  • Forty-seven of the 74 incidents in pools involved children aged 0-4 years.
  • For children 0 to 4 the majority of incidents in Maricopa County took place in above ground pools either at the victim’s home (27); a relative’s home (8); a neighbor’s home (2); or a friend’s home (3).”
  • “In at least 38% of the cases, the children were not wearing swimming attire, indicating that these incidents did not occur in a swimming situation. Instead they occurred at a time when the children were not expected to be in or near the pool.”

The Coalition reviewed the incident reports and determined a single “attributed cause” for each pool incident. These causes fell into one of six main causes:

  • No barrier to pool
  • Inadequate fence
  • Gate or latch failed or was propped open
  • Back safety door or latch failed
  • Supervision issue
  • Other or unknown.

What can we do to continue to improve pool and water safety?

No Barrier:

  • Never leave a child alone when in or near a body of water—even if it’s less than a few inches. This includes bath tubs and buckets of water.
  • For pool owners, make sure your pool has four-sided fencing and a self-closing, self-latching gate that young children cannot reach. Remember to keep chairs, steps or other items children can climb on to reach the latch away from the gate.
  • Keep the door from the house to the pool area closed and secured. Consider an alarm for the door, to indicate the door has been opened.
  • Hot tubs should be covered and locked when not in use.

Weak or No Supervision:

  • Actively supervise your children around water, and have a phone nearby to call for help in an emergency.
  • When there are several adults present and children are swimming designate an adult as the “Water Watcher” to prevent gaps in supervision.
    • What is a Water Watcher?
      • A responsible adult. You should not depend on older children to watch younger children.
      • They should not be distracted. That means no phone calls, no text messaging, no reading books or magazines, no alcohol. The primary focus should be watching the children.
      • A Water Watcher is not just for the lake or pool. Children can drown in as little as 1 inch of water, in any body of water. This includes oceans, lakes, ponds, rivers, puddles, kiddie pools, public and back yard pools, spas, bathtubs, toilets, buckets and the list goes on

Be Prepared: If there is an emergency, do you know what to do?

  • Know CPR
    • Drowning victims who are rescued from the water need CPR immediately—before the paramedics arrive. It can prevent brain damage and be the difference between life and death. Contact your local health department, hospital or visit their Web site to locate a local American Red Cross Chapter that offers courses year-round.
  • Learn how to use rescue equipment
  • Keep a phone near you and use it only to call for help if there is an emergency. These skills may help you save a child’s life.

Swimming Ability

  • Enroll your child in swimming lessons.
  • If you do not know how to swim either, enroll in a parent-child learn-to-swim class.
  • To find swimming lessons, contact your local parks and recreation department, an aquatics center or visit the YMCA Web site to find a YMCA near you.

Life Jacket Use

  • Nearly 5,000 boating accidents occur each year in open waters (lakes, rivers and oceans) and more than 700 people drown.
  • Of those who drown, nine out of 10 are not wearing a life jacket.
  • Alcohol use is involved in up to one in five reported boating fatalities.

Enjoy the summer and the opportunities it provides for family and friends to get together. Be smart, plan ahead and be safe so all your summer memories will be of fun and relaxing times.

To view a printable version of this safety tip, click here