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Nine children have drowned this year in Arizona’s most-populated counties

(Public Domain Photo)

PHOENIX — Nine children have drowned this year in Arizona’s two most-populated counties, officials said Friday.

“These numbers bring to light how big the problem is,” Ed Swift, the founder of the Children’s Safety Zone, said.

Swift’s group partners with local fire departments to count the number of water-related incidents and drowning deaths. As of July 31, there have been a total of 99 water-related incidents in Maricopa and Pinal counties this year, down from 117 at this time in 2016.

A total of 33 people have drowned this year. Eight of them were under 5 years old and one was between 6 and 12 years old.

Tiffaney Isaacson, the water safety coordinator for Phoenix Children’s Hospital, said child drownings tend to be predictable.

“They follow a consistent pattern most of the time, which includes family members with the child at a residential or apartment pool,” she said.

According to Isaacson, Arizona is one of the highest-risk states for child drownings. She said children in Arizona between the ages of 0 and 4 are drowning at a rate nearly double the national average.

Isaacson said prevention starts by having parents recognize they need to follow a different approach when watching younger children around water, as they tend to have difficulty following instructions and controlling their impulses.

“We may ask a child like this to stay away from the edge of the pool while we’re drying off a sibling,” she said. “But we should understand that, that child may or may not follow our instructions and that is why touch-distance supervision is so important.”

She said it’s also important for parents to avoid watching their children around water when they’re tired, stressed or not feeling well.

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