Salt River Project (SRP), the Arizona Multihousing Association and Drowning Prevention Coalition of Arizona (DPCA) have joined forces to remind the public to stay safe around water at community pools.

In light of water-related incidents involving both children and adults across the Valley, the three agencies have teamed up to create and distribute pool safety signs for apartment and community pool fences.

Apartment and community pools have their own unique characteristics. For example, gates may be propped open by residents for ease of their access; but at the same time, this allows access to children who may be unattended. Additionally, many swimmers use the pool without knowing other users, which may affect communication between them.

The “I’m Water Safe” signs, printed in both English and Spanish, contain four basic messages: Swim Safe, Always Watch Children, Start CPR, Dial 911.

“In Maricopa County, we had a total of 170 water-related incidents last year. We had 60 fatalities, and 20 of those were children,” said Lori Schmidt, DPCA president. “In community pools specifically, we had 5 incidents that involved kids. We hope the signs will remind folks to swim safe and always watch children.”

Schmidt added the importance of giving first responders accurate information when calling 911.

“The really important thing to remember in calling 911 in an apartment community is giving first responders the exact location of the pool and where the victim is,” said Schmidt, adding that some apartment complexes have more than one swimming pool.

More than 500 signs have been distributed to apartment communities around the Valley. The goal is to have an additional 500 signs displayed at community pools by 2014.

“There is great value in partnering with multiple organizations because we are able to reach more people with our safety message,” said Erika Castro who manages SRP’s Safety Connection program.

The signs will be distributed through the AMA Coalition program and through SRP’s website, or call (602) 236-5646.

For safety tips and to learn more about the Drowning Prevention Coalition of Arizona, visit

• Patty Garcia-Likens works in media relations for SRP.

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