PHOENIX — New numbers from the Drowning Prevention Coalition of Arizona show child fatalities related to water incidents were down 50 percent in 2013.
In Maricopa County, 43 people died in drowning incidents. Ten of them were children, four were teens and 29 were adults.
“We are very excited because last year, we had 20 child deaths and 40 adult fatalities,” said Lori Schmidt, President of the Drowning Prevention Coalition of Arizona, of the news in the decrease in drownings.
In all, Schmidt said it was some of the lowest numbers her agency has seen since 2000.
There is no specific way to attribute the drop in drowning deaths in Maricopa County, explained Schmidt, but she said including adults in prevention messages has made a difference.
“So that people understand that are not just children who are drowning,” she said.
Similarly, Schmidt said they’ve expanded their message to also include other bodies of water as potential hazards, aside from pools.
In recent years, the Drowning Prevention Coalition of Arizona has taken steps to educate communities of the dangers of drowning. They include the Water SMART Babies program, which encourages parents to include babies in water classes before they turn 1. Events and campaigns, such as Drowning Impact Awareness Month in August have potentially also contributed to the decrease in numbers.
“Drownings are 100 percent preventable,” Schmidt said, adding that she hopes the positive trend of less deaths from water-related incidents continues.
The DPCA stresses three key points families should always keep in mind: Block access to water hazards, watch each other around water and learn CPR.
For more information about the DPCA, click here.