Along with reports of our great year-round weather in the Valley of the Sun often come news reports of accidental deaths by drowning. This makes water safety a high priority for Arizonans where the potential for disaster from swimming pool drownings exists all year long.
On average, nearly 90 people die from drowning in Arizona each year with the majority of those deaths happening between April and August. This comes as no surprise since Arizona summers are known for outdoor recreation including swimming and boating.
Although they make up only 20% of the number of total drowning deaths in Arizona according to the Arizona Department of Health Services, news reports usually center on children who have drowned in their family's or a friend's backyard swimming pool. Most of them, about 75%, were being supervised around water by at least one adult and were out of the sight of those adults for 5 minutes or less.
However, the best way to prevent swimming pool drownings is by following simple water safety procedures including these from the National Safety Council:
- Never swim alone.
- Never leave a child alone near water. If you must leave, take your child with you.
- Enroll children over age three in swimming lessons taught by qualified instructors.
Carelessness while participating in water sports, including boating, tubing, and piloting personal watercraft, contributes to many drowning deaths in Arizona. Following these water safety tips from the National Safety Council can help prevent such tragedies:
- Always use approved personal flotation devices (life jackets).
- Don't jump or dive into unknown bodies of water.
- Always have a first-aid kit and emergency phone contacts handy.
- Never consume alcohol when operating a boat or other watercraft.
Arizona is a wonderland for outdoor recreation throughout the year. It's also well known for being consistently above the national average for drowning deaths. Water safety is serious business. Following these few simple rules can keep your outdoor activities fun, and your friends and family safe for many summers to come.
- - - - - - - - - -
Steve Eastwood is the Database Manager and Web Designer for Community Information and Referral in Phoenix, and is a freelance web designer with Sherwood Web Design. He enjoys tubing down the Salt River and swimming.