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With summer pool fun comes higher drowning risk for Arizona children

(AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

PHOENIX — As Arizona’s summer gets underway and families take to the pool, officials are urging parents to keep an eye on their kids around water.

According to numbers from the Centers for Disease Control, Arizona’s child drowning rate is 25 percent higher than the rest of the country. When it comes to children between the ages of 1-4, Arizona’s drowning rate is double the national average.

“We have a really high population of young kids,” Tiffaney Isaacson, water safety coordinator at Phoenix Children’s Hospital, said. “Many families here have access to swimming pools.”

Isaacson said most drowning incidents happen in June, July and August.

Issacson said, when parents take kids swimming, designate someone to be the boss of the pool. That person should be sober and able to swim.

“That person is in charge of watching the kids,” she said. “After 15 minutes, give the job to someone else because it’s really boring and you don’t want to drift off and not pay attention.”

Issacson said if you have young children in the pool, standing a few feet away isn’t good enough.

“We want the adult to be touch-distance,” she said. “Close enough to the child that you can grab them if they’re in trouble, and your cell phone should not be a part of that (keeping an eye on kids) picture.”

But pool safety doesn’t stop when the kids are dried off and the towels are put away. As long as there is a pool in the backyard, children could be in danger.

Mesa Deputy Fire Chief Forrest Smith said children will use numerous means to get outside and into a pool. For example, a child could use a dog door to get into the backyard and then climb atop a cooler to scale the fence.

“[Kids are] watching us – they’re resourceful,” he said.

The danger is escalated when a pool is not fenced. Each summer, several children fall into pools that do not have a fence.

KTAR’s Kathy Cline contributed to this report.

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