Two teen drownings prompt concern about water safety

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

PHOENIX- Two teen drownings over the weekend are a reminder that summer is almost here, and it's time to take a hard look at pool safety.

A 17-year-old drowned while at a house party. Then, a 13-year-old scaled an apartment complex pool fence and drowned in that pool.

Safety experts say tragedies like these can be avoided by keeping your eyes and ears open, especially at pools that don't have lifeguards.

"That's, like, the worst thing that can happen,” said Brenda Mondaca.

Mondaca lives in the apartment complex where the 13-year-old climbed the fence and drowned in the pool.

Phoenix Children’s Hospital has a program called “Playing it Safe” to help prevent drowning.

Tiffaney Isaacson is the water safety coordinator for the hospital, and explains that the "Playing It Safe" program is designed for parents.

"We help them understand the patterns that are involved in a child drowning,” said Isaacson.

She said it is crucial that everyone, kids and adults alike, learn how to swim and use proper flotation device when needed.

“Floaties, which go on the children's arms, are not intended to help children to be safer beside the water. Floaties are a toy just like a beach ball,” said Isaacson.

She said nothing replaces supervision. "But a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket is intended to improve the child's safety," said Isaacson.

Isaacson said a great way to supervise is to have “water watchers” while anyone is in or around the pool.

"I would have a water watcher tag on and have a capable adult watching the children at all times,” said Isaacson.

Before swim time, you should choose a few water watchers who know how to give CPR.

"Are they willing to leave their cell phone in the house and take on the job for 15 minutes, and after 15 minutes a different adult can take your job on?” said Isaacson.
The program also teaches parents to make sure everyone is outside of the pool area when it's time to  eat or when the “water watcher” needs to leave the area.

Here are some signs that someone is drowning:

-They are dog-paddling and struggling to stay afloat
-They are vertical, bobbing up and down in the water
-They are floating face-down towards the top of the water
-They are face-down on the bottom of the water
-Anytime they are trying to keep their head above water, they could be sinking

You can find more information on water safety online.