Memorial Day Weekend Brings Increased Child Drowning Risk
Memorial Holiday weekend is a special treat, a chance to celebrate the end of the school year and a return to the long, hot days of summer. Pool parties are a favorite celebration for most families, and one local mother wants to share a message to families.
“Keep your holiday weekend safe,” says Druann Letter, mother of Weston Letter and co-founder of the Water Watchers program at Phoenix Children’s Hospital. Weston drowned at the age of three and a half in his family’s backyard pool on May 31, 1998. “I love sharing my favorite memories of Weston,” says Druann, “but I wish more than anything I had him here to celebrate the holiday with me.”
Child drownings are a top cause of injury-related death for children under age five in Arizona. So far this year, four children have drowned in the Valley of the Sun, and approximately three children have suffered lifelong disability.
Holiday weekends bring increased drowning risk, because families change rules and routines around the pool, which can lead to confusion about who is in charge of supervision. To prevent a child drowning, families are encouraged to have constant, capable supervision when children have access to the water.
“Use a Water Watcher,” says Letter, “designate with a tag, hat, or whistle.”
Your Water Watcher should:
- Be an adult who knows how to swim and give CPR.
- Understand that he or she is in charge of the children, and should be within “touch distance” of children under the age of five.
- Be free from the impairment from alcohol or drugs.
- Have regular breaks, and have another Water Watcher if there are too many children to watch closely.
- Stand or sit in a place where he or she can see the entire pool area.
Water Watchers at Phoenix Children’s Hospital provides year ‘round programming to prevent child drownings, including participation in the S3 Learn-to-Swim program. The program is a partnership with Phoenix Children’s Hospital, United Phoenix Firefighters, St. Joseph’s Hospital, and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Phoenix. The program begins June 4 and will include nearly 150 families this year.
Listen to Weston's mom, Druann Letter, talk about her son on the 2006 KMLE radiothon.
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.