First graders get in the pool for Water Safety Day

March 27, 2013

Summer swimming season is around the corner and nearly 1,200 area first graders were at South Mountain Community College on Tuesday to learn how to make it a safer one. Arizona had the second-highest rate of children drowning in the country.

DESCRIPTION At a water safety demonstration, kids are taught to listen to what lifeguards tell them, and not to jump in to the water to save someone. (Photo by Christopher Connelly - KJZZ)

There are a few slogans these these first graders are learning at Water Safety Day.

At a demonstration pool, Nicole Benson had the kids shouting to "Reach or throw, don’t go.”

Basically, don’t jump in the water to save someone. Instead, throw them a line or reach out from the water’s edge.

Water Safety Day marks a halfway point through a six-week water safety course that is arming these kids with another message to take home to their parents – the ABC’s of water safety. Adult supervision, barriers like fences around pools, and classes so kids and adults know how to swim.

But there’s another message that Tiffaney Isaacson wants the community to take away. 

“Most child drownings are 100 percent preventable,” said Isaacson, who runs the yearly event for Phoenix Children’s Hospital.

Isaacson says Arizona is a perfect storm for child drowning.

“We have sunshine almost all the time,” she said. “A newer community so many more pools than an older community would have and a youthful population.”

That means more kids who could fall into those pools.

Some 20 kids died by drowning in the Valley last year, and eight others sustained brain damage or other lifelong disabilities from near-drownings. But the rate of childhood deaths by drowning has dropped in recent decades, thanks largely to better prevention and outreach.

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