Drownings, near-deaths prompt renewed plea for pool, tub safety
Randy Metcalf/The Explorer, Life guard Nick Patzke, 18, keeps an eye on children playing in the kids’ pool at James D. Kriegh Park last week.

Drowning deaths – including the loss of two children in their grandparents' Catalina Foothills swimming pool last week – and near-drownings are prompting law enforcement, fire protection agencies and others to renew their pleas for pool safety.

Pima County has had five drownings and at least 15 water-related incidents this year. Northwest Fire /Rescue had a fatal water incident within its coverage area, according to SafeKids Tucson.

Last Tuesday, the Marana Town Council declared August to be "Drowning Impact Awareness Month." Each year in Arizona, the equivalent of a classroom of children die in swimming accidents, according to the proclamation. Children drown regardless of education, race or socio-economic background. Families can take "simple steps to protect their children around water to avoid the tragedy of the unnecessary loss of life."

Northwest Fire/Rescue personnel were on hand for the proclamation. "Hopefully, we'll all be more aware and protect our children," Mayor Ed Honea said.

Pools can pose hazards for people who work on and in them, according to a release from SCF Arizona. Lifeguards must deal with heat stress, skin damage, recreational water illnesses and potentially combative, panicked swimmers. Chlorine exposure, electrical hazards and slipping and falling are further risks.

Pool, hot tub safety checklist

• Never take your eyes off of children in the pool, even for a moment. If you're in a group, appoint a designated "water watcher," taking turns with other adults.

• While supervising, stay alert, and avoid distractions like reading or the phone.

• Teach children to swim after age 4.

• Teach children how to tread water, float and get out of the pool.

• Tell children to stay away from pool and hot tub drains.

• Tie up long hair securely to guard against drain entanglement.

• Don't rely on water wings or other inflatable toys. If your child can't swim, stay within an arm's reach.

• Never dive in water less than nine feet deep.

• If you find a drain cover that is loose, broken or missing, notify the owner or operator and do not enter the pool or hot tub.

• Keep gates to the pool area latched.

• Learn infant and child CPR.

• Look for lifesaving equipment by the pool.

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