Raising Kids: Water Safety

Where's your buddy?

Now, the next story in our series about raising kids in Arizona. Today the focus is on parents, and the importance of supervision around water. Earlier this week, a family in Glendale lost track of a 1-year-old boy, who then fell into a pond.  Rescuers revived the boy, but some first responders say situations like that in Glendale happen all too often, and some medical professionals are trying to change that.  KJZZ’s Tony Ganzer reports.

TG:  Experts say it only takes a parent a few seconds of distraction for a child to find itself in a bad situation, especially when water is involved.

LUCY RANUS:  “One of the most important things that we go after here in Arizona is the drowning issue.”

TG:  Lucy Ranus is a nurse with the Barrow Neurological Center at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Phoenix.

RANUS: “…It’s the leading cause of death and permanent brain injury among children under four-years-of-old.  Barriers are very important: they increase the time that you can get to your child.  But adult supervision is important as well as teaching them how to swim.”

TG:  Ranus’s main job is educating the public about issues like water safety. She holds workshops and events to highlight the importance of preventing injury to children before an event occurs..  Ranus says depending on the temperature of water, and the age of the child, brain damage can happen within minutes of a child landing in water.

RANUS: “And if we can prevent the injury from happening, or by teaching young people, children and adults how to use safety equipment, then we can we can reduce the severity of the injury.”

(Nats Mesa fire public service announcement: “Please, watch your children around water at all times using eye to eye contact.” Fade under…)

TG:  Valley first responders are also urging water safety year round.  This public service announcement from the Mesa Fire Department is running on YouTube.

(Nats “There’s no substitution for eye-to-eye supervision.” Nats fade)


You always need a buddy.

TG: Michelle Long is with Mesa Fire Department.

LONG:  “Arizona runs number 2 in the nation as far as having childhood drownings.  We’re doing everything we can as a city, but also as a coalition within the state of Arizona to prevent drownings.  We talk about supervision, but it’s also the barriers that’s so important.  And different cities have different codes based on that.  But having a locked gate, having fences and properly working ones can make a big difference.”

TG:  Long says the danger of drowning is compounded with Valley residents’ transient nature.  With so many people moving here, parents and guardians may not be used to living around so many swimming pools or canals.  Despite that lack of context, pool owners should keep a child isolated from a pool without a parent watching.

LONG:  “We’re seeing this too often: one is too many.  Last year we had 17 drownings, near drownings just in Mesa alone.  That included children as well as adults, so it’s not just a child issue it’s an issue that affects everybody.  Not even adults should be swimming alone.”

RANUS: “There’s no message or call that’s worth the life of your child.”

TG:  Both Long and Ranus say a person could drown in as little as 2 inches of water.  And top-heavy babies are even at risk around dog dishes or toilets because of their still developing sense of balance.  They say water safety isn’t just a summer time issue…its an issue all year round.

For KJZZ, I’m Tony Ganzer.

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