JANUARY 22, 2014
Maricopa County drowning incidents, fatalities drastically decline
Maricopa County drowning incidents and fatalities took a nosedive in 2013, according to stats collected by the Children’s Safety Zone for the Drowning Prevention Coalition of Arizona. Pediatric and child fatalities were half of what they were in 2012 and teen/adult fatality numbers dropped from 40 to 33.
“These are amongst the lowest numbers since the year 2000,” said Lori Schmidt, DPCA president. “Although we have been extremely active in multiple areas for water safety, there is no magic bullet to say ‘this is absolutely why numbers are down.’ The good news is our efforts in these areas are definitely having an impact. We need to keep this trend going. Our goal, as always, is zero drownings.”
Recently, DPCA took specific steps to help communities become more aware of the dangers associated with drownings for all ages. They include:
• Implemented Water SMART Babies program to encourage parents to get their children in water safety class between 9 months and a year.
• For the last two years, granted water safety lesson scholarships to aquatic centers to help with free or reduce water safety classes for both children and adults.
• Provided education on the danger of canals, and the use of floaties/water wings.
• Encouraged life jacket use for children in pools, lakes and rivers as well as for adults.
• No one should swim alone: adults need a buddy and children need adult supervision at all times.
• Supported several large events including the first annual “Getting to the Pointe of Water Safety” Event; Drowning Impact Awareness Month; Banner Children’s Walk for Water Safety Campaign, which has given out 100,000 water safety bags yearly; and Phoenix Children’s Water Safety Day, which educates 1,500 first graders and their families.
• Released several public service announcements, including Mesa Fire’s Emmy winning PSAs.
To continue the downward trend, DPCA wants to remind everyone that drowning is a year round problem in Arizona and it’s not just a child safety issue.
“Every year we lose at least twice as many adults than children. Everyone needs to know how to be safe around the water. Additionally, barriers remain one of most common broken links in the injury prevention chain,” Schmidt said. “The lack of pool fences across the Valley is alarming. There are too many pools left unprotected because they were grandfathered in or city ordinances provide loopholes.”
The DPCA stresses that families should take a 3-pronged approach to drowning prevention: Block, Watch, Learn.
Block access to water hazards. Put fences around pools, use protective covers on spas, close bathroom doors, and dump out water buckets.
Watch each other around water. Neither adults nor children should swim alone. And if you lose track of children, always check your water hazards first.
Learn CPR and ensure all family members know how to swim.
Visit www.preventdrownings.org for more information.