As the month of August gets underway, temperatures remain high, and so does the temptation to lounge by the poolside or take a dip in the nearest lake. Here in Arizona, it is so easy to take for granted the luxury of relaxing by the water, that we may forget how easy it is for a child to slip into a pool unnoticed. Whether stepping inside the house to grab a towel, walking away from the lake shore to grab a drink from the cooler, or paying too much attention to what’s on our cell phone, we must not forget to take proper steps to adequately supervise children around any body of water.
Since 2004, August has been designated as Drowning Impact Awareness Month in Arizona. Each year, the Phoenix Children’s Hospital and the Drowning Prevention Coalition of Arizona partner with local cities and the Governor’s office to promote awareness for drowning prevention and water safety practices. According to the Drowning Prevention Coalition of Arizona website, June, July, and August are peak times for child drownings in Arizona, however back to school distractions in August make it a high risk month for child drowning. Although child drownings are nearly 100% preventable, they continue to be a top cause of injury and death for children in Arizona. In fact, between 2010 and 2015, drowning was the leading cause of death among children aged 1-4 years old. This is an alarming statistic that I hope to see decline in the immediate future.
For the past few years, Mayor Wolcott has proclaimed August as Drowning Impact Awareness Month in the City of Surprise. This year, the proclamation will be read aloud and presented to the city’s Fire Department at the August 7th City Council meeting. To provide more opportunities for water safety, the City is also offering free beginner group swim lessons for 3-5 year olds thanks to a sponsorship with Surprise Firefighter Charities. There are two sessions in August; session 1 takes place from the 6th to the 16th, and session 2 takes place from the 20th to the 30th. Group lessons for ages 6 & up, as well as private lessons for all ages are also available. Fees for Surprise residents start at only $25! For more information, call the Surprise Aquatic Center at (623) 222-2500. Space is limited and fills up fast, so call today!
Salt River Project (SRP) provides a fantastic opportunity for families with young children who have pools in their backyards. Thanks to a partnership with United Phoenix Fire Union Charities, SRP provides free pool fences to families who have one or more children aged 6 and under living in the home, and meet specific income requirements. Details and the application can be found on SRP’s website, https://www.srpnet.com/safety/home/poolfence.aspx.
In closing, I want to leave you with this great tip, which you will see on all Drowning Impact Awareness Month literature: To prevent child drownings, follow the ABC’s of Water Safety – Adult supervision when children have access to water, Barriers between children and water, and Classes in CPR for adults, swimming lessons for children at the appropriate age. You’ve probably heard it before, but taking your eyes off of a child for just two seconds can mean the difference between life and death. As always, I am happy to speak more about this topic. Please give me a call at (623) 222-1322, or email me at Nancy.Hayden@surpriseaz.gov.