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Experts remind families to be safe around water

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Posted: Friday, March 29, 2013 4:49 pm

Phoenix Children’s Hospital and the Phoenix Fire Department are already working to get kids ready for summer with reminders about staying safe around water.

More than 1,100 first-graders took a field trip to South Mountain Community College on Tuesday for the 14th Annual Water Day.

The kids have been learning about water safety in their classrooms and all the lessons were reaffirmed through rescue demonstrations, carnival games, tours of fire trucks and rescue boats, craft safety reminders, a singing firefighter show and a puppetry show.

The focus of Water Safety Day is to remind kids about the ABC’s of Water Safety. “A” is for adult supervision, “B” for barriers and “C” for classes — CPR for adults and swimming classes for kids.

Already in 2013 the Phoenix Fire Department has seen seven water-related incidents, including four children. Three adults have died in Phoenix. One child has fatally drowned in Arizona.

Tiffany Isaacson, water safety coordinator for Phoenix Children’s Hospital, said 10 percent of kids involved in a water-related incident will never recover, meaning they will suffer some sort of permanent injury.

“When the brain is deprived of oxygen it sets off a domino effect in the body,” she said. “There are neurological problems, respiratory problems, digestive problems, skeletal, muscular, it’s a descending quality of life. It’s very hard.”

Isaacson said it takes two to four minutes to lose consciousness and four to six minutes for a brain injury.

Daniel Cheatham, of the Phoenix Fire Department, said what he sees most often is the ripple effect a drowning can cause. Of course lives are changed when a life is lost, but the brain injuries also have a lasting impact on families.

“There’s a huge impact on families if a child suffers brain damage,” he said. “A spouse has to stay home to take care of a child and the divorce rate goes sky high after a tragic incident such as this. The ripple effect is what we really see and it’s completely preventable.”

Now that the weather is warming up Phoenix Children’s Hospital and the Phoenix Fire Department want to remind residents to be safe around water.

“I give a lot of statistics because I want people to understand how big the problem is,” Isaacson said. “Every one of those is a life that’s lost. It’s a child who will never become a parent. Maybe they were going to become a doctor. Maybe they were going to find a cure for cancer. Maybe they were just going to be a wonderful friend to someone. We’re never going to know. It affects their families, friends, classmates. The reason for all the fire department support is when they run on a call of a child who was healthy 20 minutes ago and they can’t save them, it’s devastating for them and doctors and nurses. I have talked to all of these people and they have told me how hard it is for them.”

For more information on water safety, visit and search for “Water Safety” or call (602) 546-1712.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7914 or

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