Too often, firefighters hear people say, “I only turned my back for a few seconds.” Sadly, just a few seconds is all it takes for a child to drown. Drowning is one of the leading causes of death for children under age of four in Arizona. Most children drown in their own pools, but many children drown in canals, buckets, toilets, bathtubs and ponds.
Non-fatal water incidents or near-drowning calls are also tragic. Non-fatal water incidents can cause permanent brain damage. Drownings and non-fatal incidents can be prevented! Anyone involved with young children need to be aware of this tragedy.
If you find someone in trouble in the water, yell for help and pull the person out of the water, call 911 immediately and stay on the line and begin CPR. If you aren’t trained, follow the instructions from the 911 operator until help arrives.
To prevent drowning, use an approved barrier to separate the pool from the house, and never allow children to be alone near a pool or any water source (this includes bathtubs, buckets, toilets, ponds, and canals). Always have life-saving devices near the pool, such as a hook, pole, or flotation device, and make sure to keep large objects such as tables, chairs, tricycles, and ladders away from pool fences. Make sure to never leave children unattended in or around a pool by always having a designated child watcher. Do not allow children to play in pool area, store all toys out of the pool area and if you leave the pool area, take the children with you.
Make sure you practice pool safety. Learn to swim, never swim alone, never swim under the influence of alcohol or medications, never swim when you hear thunder or see lightning and never dive into an unfamiliar body of water.
Remember, just a few seconds is all it takes for a child to drown. Keep water play SAFE and fun. Share these Water Safety Messages with family and friends. (Special thanks to our friends at Phoenix Fire Department who helped develop some of these safety tips.)
Tracy Koslowski is the Drexel Heights Fire District Public Education/Information Manager.