Mother’s Message: Even with Autumn Temps, Drowning Risk Still Present
With this week’s last hot spell, the end of triple-digits is on the horizon for Arizona residents. October brings the chance to enjoy the outdoors again. Family calendars will fill with neighborhood pizza parties and football potlucks, and safety around the backyard pool may become less of a concern to parents.
However, four children were pulled from backyard pools and spas just last month, over Labor Day weekend, and two of those children did not survive. “The end of summer does not mean the end of drowning risk,” says Tiffaney Isaacson, Coordinator of Water Watchers at Phoenix Children’s Hospital.
On average, about three children drown between September and December in the Valley of the Sun, according to media clippings. Seventeen children have already drowned in the Valley in 2012. With increased time spent outside, the back yard pool remains a hazard that parents should not overlook.
“Recently, my son Weston would have celebrated his 18th birthday,” says Druann Letter, who co-founded Water Watchers at Phoenix Children’s Hospital in his name after he drowned in 1998 at the age of three. “He wanted so much to grow up to be a firefighter, to drive monster trucks and take care of his baby sisters. When you think backyard parties, think of water safety first. Have a plan and share it with your guests, so you can enjoy our beautiful weather and be safe.”
If you are hosting an outdoor gathering, make sure your party plans include these strategies:
- Ask guests as they arrive if their child can swim or not, so that non-swimmers receive “touch-distance” supervision during swim-time.
- Designate “Water Watchers,” to provide constant, capable supervision when children have access to the pool, whether they are swimming or not.
- Set a limit in alcohol consumed by the Water Watcher, just as for a designated driver.
- Offer a US Coast Guard approved life jacket for non-swimming children, rather than relying on arm-float toys.
- Young children may get tired during swim time – offer safe activities away from the pool, such as movies or games.
- Give pets free-swim time with children in another area, so large dogs don’t knock children into the water.
- Make an announcement when mealtime begins, that the pool area is “closed.” Scan the area carefully before locking the gate, and do a head-count of the children.
For more information about water safety, visit www.phoenixchildrens.com
About Phoenix Children’s Hospital
Phoenix Children’s Hospital, ranked in U.S. News & World Report’s Best Children’s Hospitals, is Arizona’s only licensed children’s hospital, providing world-class inpatient, outpatient, trauma, emergency and urgent care to children and families in Arizona and throughout the Southwest. As one of the largest children’s hospitals in the country with 465 licensed beds, Phoenix Children’s provides care across nearly 50 pediatric specialties. The hospital is poised for continued growth in quality patient care, research and medical education. For more information about the hospital, visit www.phoenixchildrens.com.