‘Water You’re Doing?’ stresses pool safety SanTan Sun News

‘Water You’re Doing?’ stresses pool safety

May 24th, 2021 STSN Staff
‘Water You’re Doing?’ stresses pool safety
Community
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By the City of Chandler

May is Water Safety Awareness Month. With summer temperatures heating up and more families working and schooling from home, the risk for drownings is on the rise.

According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, drowning rates in Arizona increased 300 percent in 2020 in direct correlation to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In Chandler alone, emergency calls for drowning incidents increased from the City’s average of three to a staggering 12. Tragedy struck last week when a 7-year-old girl drowned at a Chandler apartment complex where she lived.

The majority of incidents in Chandler involved children and took place at private homes, although drowning incidents involving adults are also on the rise.  For children ages 1-4, drowning is the leading cause of accidental death, with rates even surpassing those of traffic accident fatalities.

For every child who dies from drowning, another five receive emergency department care for nonfatal water-related incidents.

These unfortunate statistics are made grimmer by the fact that 100 percent of drownings are preventable. Drowning is a complex public health issue that requires a multifaceted prevention approach.

To decrease the risk of drowning from multiple angles, the City of Chandler encourages all people to follow the ABCs of Water Safety whenever around water this summer.

The ABCs of Water Safety stand for, (A) adult supervision, (B) barriers and (C) classes.

Adult supervision is the first and most important line of defense against drowning. Children and adults, no matter their swimming skill level, should always be accompanied and supervised.

Designating a water watcher to oversee the water activity in its entirety is key. Water watchers should be within arm’s reach when in or around water and spend their time scanning the top and bottom of the pool.

Watchers should be sober, alert and free from distractions such as cell phones and poolside chats. However, a phone should be easily available for quick access in case of emergencies.

According to Jessica Chamberlain, a recreation coordinator for Chandler Aquatics and lead of the City’s “Water You Doing” water safety campaign, nothing beats adult supervision when children are in or near the water.

“Adult supervision comes first in the ABCs because it is absolutely the most important,” Chamberlain said. “When adult supervision lapses or the guard is down for even a moment, that is where you’re forced to rely on those other layers of protection.”

Adults watching children and older swimmers should be on the lookout for signs of drowning, including sputtering, hyperventilating or gasping, closed eyes, eyes unable to focus, trying to roll over onto the back, appearing to be climbing an invisible ladder, or staying vertical in water without using legs.

Barriers come second on the list of water safety tools, as people cannot drown in water they cannot reach.

Children are naturally fascinated by and attracted to water and can slip away without being noticed. For safety, maintain layers of protection by creating pool barriers, such as a pool fence with a self-closing and self-latching gate out of the reach of children.

Classes, such as professional swimming lessons and CPR classes, are another layer of defense to protect or save swimmers once they have entered the pool.

In emergency situations, such as when a child accidentally falls into a pool, knowing how to swim can buy lifesaving time until an adult can intervene.

Additionally, if a non-fatal drowning incident leaves someone in need of immediate medical attention, knowing proper CPR can help administer crucial aid until first responders arrive at the scene.

Chandler residents can access swimming lessons and CPR classes through Chandler Recreation.

What are some of the causes of this urgent public health issue in the state of Arizona?

According to Chamberlain, the state’s high number of pools coupled with nationwide low access to safety-prevention information, makes swimmers especially vulnerable here.

“The numbers show that a child in Arizona is twice as likely to die from drowning as a child from another state,” Chamberlain said. “It is a public safety epidemic we don’t talk about as much as vaccines or car injuries, even though the issue is equally or even more severe.”

The City’s multifaceted water safety campaign, “Water You Doing” emphasizes awareness and prevention at all times.

On May 15, members of Chandler Aquatics, Police and Fire visited around 4,000 homes for the annual Water Walk. This year, the team visited southwest Chandler, distributing water safety information on door hangers and speaking with residents about staying safe in the water.

The Chandler Police Department and Code Enforcement division have joined the water safety campaign to encourage more awareness from every angle.

Chandler Police now offer water safety information at its Guardian Academy classes for prospective legal guardians and encourage the ABCs of Water Safety at all neighborhood crime prevention meetings.

Code enforcement teams distribute water safety information during pool fence inspections.

For more information or training at home, Chandler Aquatics offers free virtual how-to videos on teaching bathtub skills for children. Bathtub skills can get children comfortable in and around water.

They can also help get your child ready for swim lessons or keep their swimming skills fresh during the off-season.

Talking to children at home about water safety can help open a dialogue and help parents gauge gaps in safety knowledge among children. Quizzing children on “what would you do” scenarios involving pool accidents and emergency protocol can be a step towards safety and peace of mind.

Resources are available at chandleraz.gov/WaterYouDoing.

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