Call Attention To Drowning Prevention

By Traci Tenkely

In the winter of 2010, there were five drowning incidents in the city of Chandler, Ariz. These tragedies prompted the city’s fire department and aquatic division to develop a drowning-prevention coalition.

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The partnership’s mission was simple—to increase awareness of these unfortunate accidents, and to prevent future drowning incidents throughout the community.

Creating Community Awareness
Last summer, the aquatic division created a series of public-service videos regarding healthy swim habits, aquatic pool rules, and sun safety, and posted a “Pool Safely” game on the city’s aquatic website.

With a small budget for this safety campaign, the city relied on existing internal resources and produced a video in a firefighter’s backyard pool with several children, staff members, and the city’s video-production coordinator, Stacy Sacco.

Three Simple Steps
This free public-service announcement was broadcast on the city’s local-access cable channel and uploaded to the YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/ChandlerRecreation), where it garnered more than 120 views in a month. It focused on three simple steps to prevent drownings:

Secure: Secure access to the pool, putting away buckets and play pools after each use and installing a self-latching, self-closing mechanism to the pool gate. The gate should never be propped open.

Think of your backyard and other places where children swim. Is there pool furniture, trees, shrubs, or toys that could be used to gain access over the pool fence? Can any of these be removed? Check to see if a child can crawl under the pool fence or fit between any loose bars.

Don’t leave toys inside the pool fence that might entice a child to enter the area; secure all toys and equipment before leaving the pool area.

Supervise: Supervision of swim time means designating a water-watcher who is in charge of everyone in the pool. It is important for this person to be near the action and not be distracted by a phone or gate. This person needs to be sober, know how to swim, and know how to perform CPR in case of an emergency.

Train: Learning how to swim is important for a child’s health and well-being. If supervision fails, you want children to have every opportunity to help themselves.

While floating is the foundation for swimming, that alone does not take the place of learning how to swim or direct and constant supervision.

In the event someone is struggling in the water, it’s important to remember, “Reach or throw, don’t go.” If someone is unconscious in the water, remove the person, call 911 immediately, and begin administering CPR. CPR can be stopped when trained rescuers arrive, the scene becomes unsafe, or you become too tired to continue.

Important information to provide to the fire department includes how long the person was in the water, if the person stopped breathing, and whether compressions were performed.

Ongoing Awareness And Promotion
Promoting drowning-awareness education is undoubtedly important to aquatic staff everywhere. The best way to distribute these critical safety tips to the public is to make them free and accessible.

Chandler utilizes its social-media outlets to reach the residents who may benefit from these videos.

For ideas on how to create water and sun-safety videos, visit www.chandleraz.gov/aquatics, www.facebook.com/chandleraquatics, and @ChandlerAquatic on Twitter.

Traci Tenkely is an Aquatics Coordinator for the city of Chandler, Ariz. Reach her at (480) 782-2767.