Knowing how to swim is essential for personal safety and enjoyment. The Centers for Disease Control says formal swimming lessons can prevent young children from drowning; drowning is the second highest cause of death involving unintentional injuries. Private or group lessons are available year round through the YMCAs, The Red Cross, Vanderbilt University, MTSU and other facilities. Don’t delay in giving your young child lessons. This is especially important for States with year round swimming such as ours, Arizona.
Along with reports of our great year-round weather in the Valley of the Sun often come news reports of accidental deaths by drowning. This makes water safety a high priority for Arizonans where the potential for disaster from swimming pool drownings exists all year long.
On average, nearly 90 people die from drowning in Arizona each year with the majority of those deaths happening between April and August. This comes as no surprise since Arizona summers are known for outdoor recreation including swimming and boating.
Although they make up only 20% of the number of total drowning deaths in Arizona according to the Arizona Department of Health Services, news reports usually center on children who have drowned in their family's or a friend's backyard swimming pool. Most of them, about 75%, were being supervised around water by at least one adult and were out of the sight of those adults for 5 minutes or less.
While less than half of all drowning deaths in the state involve swimming pool accidents, owners of swimming pools must adhere to stringent state and local building codes.
However, the best way to prevent swimming pool drownings is by following simple water safety procedures including these from the National Safety Council:
Never swim alone.
Never leave a child alone near water. If you must leave, take your child with you.
Enroll children over age three in swimming lessons taught by qualified instructors.In addition to water safety relating to swimming pools, you must be aware of other drowning dangers, especially for children, in and around your home. These include bathtubs, decorative ponds, and even mop buckets. It only takes 2 inches of water and a couple of minutes for a small child to drown.
Carelessness while participating in water sports, including boating, tubing, and piloting personal watercraft, contributes to many drowning deaths in Arizona. Following these water safety tips from the National Safety Council can help prevent such tragedies:
Always use approved personal flotation devices (life jackets).
Don't jump or dive into unknown bodies of water.
Always have a first-aid kit and emergency phone contacts handy.
Never consume alcohol when operating a boat or other watercraft.
Arizona is a wonderland for outdoor recreation throughout the year. It's also well known for being consistently above the national average for drowning deaths. Water safety is serious business. Following these few simple rules can keep your outdoor activities fun, and your friends and family safe for many summers to come.
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