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Phoenix firefighters visit Valley mortuary to talk water safety

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Posted: Monday, August 20, 2012 11:49 am

Valley firefighters are once again making a plea to parents to watch your kids around water.

Each year there’s a spike in child drownings around the time kids go back to school and the Labor Day holiday, said Deputy Chief Frank Salomon of the Phoenix Fire Department. That trend is happening once again in 2012.

The Valleywide Fire Information Officer Network, comprised of firefighters and police officers across the Valley, had a press conference at Hansen Mortuaries in Phoenix to have an honest conversation about child drownings.

“We’re not here for the shade,” Salomon said. “This is the final resting place for a lot of the young children that die in our backyards. Children that have died in pools, toilets, in doggie dishes, in Jacuzzis. Any body of water that can cover the mouth and the nose at the same time can cause a death, especially of a young child.”

In the past 10 years there have been 1,586 incidents involving water. Five hundred twenty-five of those incidents have been fatal and 171 of those have been young children who have died. Already in 2012 Phoenix alone has seen two child fatalities and firefighters have responded to 45 incidents.

“It’s something you should never have to go through,” said Elisa Hart, whose son Eric died after falling out of a window, rolling into a pool and drowning in 2010. “After the police ended their investigation and found that we were not negligent in this situation, we had to go down to the police station and pick up two evidence bags. One with his shirt and one with his shorts. You may have memories of your child but whatever is left of that child is now in these bags. We will never open them. We’ll never look inside of them. Those will always be a reminder to us and hopefully to other parents that this is what’s left of your child. They don’t have to go through that.”

Valley firefighters reminded parents the ABC’s of water safety. A is for Adult Supervision. B is for barriers, meaning fences or alarms. C is for classes from swimming classes to CPR and first aid.

The United Phoenix Firefighters has a program to donate pool fences to those who do not have one. By visiting the website parents can apply to have a fence donated and installed by a licensed contractor. also has information on CPR, first aid, swimming and baby-sitter certificate classes.

“If you don’t have a pool fence you’re playing Russian Roulette with your kid’s life,” said Capt. Rich Bauer with the United Phoenix Firefighters. “Parents aren’t supposed to be burying their children. It’s not supposed to happen that way. As parents we really feel compassion for these people but as firefighters, having a press conference here really demonstrates how frustrated we are.”

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7914 or

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