The average Ahwatukee Foothills family can live a life as individual as they please — some spend their time at sports, some love to travel. Some families are small and some are large. Some entertain friends non-stop, others prefer quiet nights to themselves. Individuality is the American way.
But a few things connect all Ahwatukee families. If you have children, you are in the same back-to-school rush as me:
• Await the sacred school supply list.
• Take it to the store, discover which item your first store does not carry.
• Go to another, and another, until the list is complete.
• Pack the lunches, meet the teachers, set the alarm clocks.
• Buy more school supplies, when the family dog eats crayons and backpacks.
• Remind yourself you did this every day last year, and it will become a do-able routine soon enough.
It’s complicated. The new routines, the school events, the process of following a new schedule, all of these things leave my family a bit dazed.
And in the midst of it all, some of the worst heat we will see all year long. Extreme heat advisories come and go, and the only refuge from it is the air-conditioned comfort of your couch, or the cool water of your backyard pool. The hot summer months are, sadly, also the highest months of the year for child drowning incidents.
These common back-to-school routines and backyard pool gatherings bring us all together. And this month, so do purple ribbons and our statewide determination to prevent child drownings. This month is Drowning Impact Awareness Month, the annual purple ribbon campaign to prevent child drownings, and remember those affected by these tragedies.
No matter whether your family is large or small, jet-setters or home-bodies, you all love your children. And your heart aches with mine when we hear about children like Weston Letter, who drowned in his backyard pool in 1998 at age 3; or Santana Black, who was severely injured at age 2.
One more thing can connect us this month — our backyard water safety plan. Make yours today, and include constant, capable supervision of children near the water. When swim time is over, make sure children can’t go over, under, or through your pool gate. Then prepare for emergencies by refreshing your CPR skills and teaching your children to swim at the appropriate age.
At the end of the month, a final event brings us together — Labor Day, when we celebrate our hard work by — well, not working. Backyard pool parties and barbecue celebrations are practically mandatory. Designate a few sober, qualified Water Watchers to keep an eye on the pool during your pool party, and everyone will enjoy the day.
To join me in celebrating Drowning Impact Awareness Month by getting a purple ribbon, seeing the governor and mayor’s proclamations, or to learn more about water safety, visit www.phoenixchildrens.com and go to the Injury Prevention Center page, or call (602) 933-1712.
Tiffaney Isaacson is the water safety coordinator for Water Watchers at Phoenix Children’s Hospital. Reach her at (602) 546-1712.