May 2007

Protect Arizona’s Children from a Silent Killer – Water

From Rural/Metro Fire Department

Tragically, every year in Arizona there are children who will die in water-related incidents, and almost all of these deaths and injuries are preventable. Most of these incidents occur in backyard pools as warm weather arrives and the allure to swim is near.

Parents, grandparents, and anyone else who has the responsibility to watch children, must remain vigilant around any type of water. Drowning may occur during any given month, but statistics prove the most at-risk months are March through August.

Statistics also prove that most drowning and near-drowning incidents take place on weekends when both parents are home. Miscommunication between parents can lead to a tragic event when it isn’t determined who is actually watching the child or children. 

Children between the ages of 0-5 are the most at-risk age group for drowning in any type of standing water. Play pools, bathtubs, spas, toilets and buckets can hold enough water for a child to drown in, but it is the backyard pool that has been the deadliest for children.

Prevention is the key. Supervision is the rule. As parents, we cannot underestimate the mobility and ability of a toddler.

The best defense to combat drowning is a combination of constant supervision and an approved barrier with a self-closing, self-latching gate at least 4.5 feet above the ground between the house and pool.

  • Never leave children playing in or near water – if you leave, they leave too.
  • Keep climbing objects away from the fence or barrier.
  • Keep a phone by the pool for an emergency – don’t be distracted by talking on it.
  • Learn and practice CPR.
  • No one, not even adults, should swim alone.
  • Install and maintain a pool fence that completely surrounds the pool.
  • Keep all access doors to pool areas secured.
  • Keep toys and pets away from the pool area.
  • Keep rescue equipment in a clearly accessible place near the pool.

For personal watercraft and boating enthusiasts:

  • Take a boater education class with your children.
  • Ensure your child understands a personal watercraft is not a toy.
  • Always use a personal flotation device.
  • Never allow passengers to ride in front of the operator.

Drowning is the second largest cause of death for Arizona children. For every drowning fatality, several additional near-drownings occur. The majority of drownings and near-drownings are preventable. 

Please remember that no matter how many safety precautions have been put in place, there is no substitute for adequate adult supervision. If a drowning does happen to your family, early detection by the child’s caregiver, early CPR, and rapid access to the 9-1-1 system will help mitigate a negative outcome.

Instructed swimming lessons are great for children, but don’t let that give you a false sense of security. Most of all, don’t think it can’t happen to you or your family.

The Rural/Metro Fire Department encourages everyone to have a safe summer and watch your children around water.   For more information visit: or

Please be child safe around water and remember: Prevention is the key. Supervision is the rule.

For more information, contact Rural/Metro’s Alison Cooper, public relations manager at (480) 627-6451.