First 2014 water-related child fatality kick starts awareness effort - Ahwatukee Foothills News: News

First 2014 water-related child fatality kick starts awareness effort

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Posted: Monday, March 3, 2014 7:17 am | Updated: 4:27 pm, Thu Apr 17, 2014.

Water safety incidents in Phoenix dropped each of the past two years, thanks in part to a concerted effort to educate the community. But a toddler drowned in a backyard pool last week, kick starting the awareness effort once again.

Phoenix firefighters, volunteers and city leaders hit a northeast Phoenix neighborhood Tuesday morning handing out information about drowning prevention.

A 3-year-old boy drowned in a backyard swimming pool Sunday near 64th Street and Camelback Road. The pool did not have a fence and the child, who was not breathing and did not have a pulse when firefighters arrived, was in the water for more than 10 minutes, according to Phoenix Fire Department officials.

Newer homes are required to have barriers around pools. But there is not a requirement in older neighborhoods such as the one where the child drowned Sunday.

It is important for residents to have awareness about how to prevent drownings, said Kelly Lieberman, Phoenix Fire Department spokesman.

Lieberman was among the group that handed out water safety information as part of Tuesday’s W.A.V.E. walk — water, awareness, vigilance, education.

The group reached 565 homes in less than an hour.

Sunday’s incident was the first water-related child fatality this year, after two adult deaths resulted from eight water-related incidents, according to the Phoenix Fire Department.

The total water-related incidents in Phoenix dropped from a five-year high of 86 in 2011 to 69 in 2012 and to 32 last year, according Phoenix Fire Department statistics. Water-related deaths, however, rose from 17 in 2012 to 20 a year ago.

The last Ahwatukee drowning was in August 2012 in a backyard swimming pool.

Swimming pool incidents were by far the top cause of drowning deaths the last year five years, according to the same statistics, followed by bathtubs.

Supervision is always the best preventative, officials say, but teaching a child to swim is valuable as well. Swim lessons are available at the Ahwatukee Community Swim and Tennis Center, the Ahwatukee Foothills Family YMCA and the city’s Pecos Pool, among other places.

For a list of water safety tips, visit the Drowning Prevention Coalition of Arizona’s website, preventdrownings.org.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-6549 or cgabel@ahwatukee.com.

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