Yuma, Arizona - In April of this year there were two tragic incidents involving fatal drownings of young children in backyard pools in the Yuma area. Since then, within the boundaries of the City of Yuma there have been six additional near drowning incidents involving children and backyard pools. As of last night, there have been three in August alone!

August is Drowning Impact Awareness Month, a time where we once again need to remind ourselves that we can never let down our guard, a tragedy might only be a heartbeat away.  Six of the eight local incidents involved children four years old or younger and this is the age group at highest risk of drowning. There are a few basic steps to reduce this risk, we call them the ABCs of drowning prevention.

“A” is for Adult supervision. First responders often hear “It was only a few seconds” or “I thought someone else was watching”. If children are around water, they need constant, responsible, undistracted, adult supervision. Designate a “Water Watcher” whose only responsibility is to watch the children (the more children, like at a pool party, the more watchers needed). If that person has to leave the area, someone else takes over or everyone leaves the pool area with them.

“B” is for Barrier fencing. Every pool should be enclosed by a barrier fence at least 4 feet high. It should have a self-closing, self-latching gate. Pool toys should not be left in the pool, they attract children, and furniture should not be near the exterior fence where it can be used to crawl over. 

“C” is for Classes. Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), learn how to perform CPR in the event that the unthinkable does happen. In addition, although we cannot “waterproof” our children, teach them to swim (the City of Yuma’s Parks and Recreation program has many great “classes”). Immediate parental CPR is known to have made the difference in 4 of our incidents!

We can even add a “D” for Devices. Pool alarms are also added security (there are even alarms that can be attached to the child!).

Keeping children healthy and safe are the goals of Fire Departments and other prevention institutions in Arizona. There is no substitute for constant, responsible, focused, (even relentless!) adult supervision of children around water. The consequences of failure are just too great…