Hidden hazards of open-water swimming

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Swimming in open water is very different than in a pool. (Source: 123rf.com) Swimming in open water is very different than in a pool. (Source: 123rf.com)

Many Arizonans beat the heat each summer by jumping into the pool or spending time at the lake, but it’s not always fun and games!

Drownings are far too common in Arizona. According to Children's Safety Zone, there's been 57 water incidents in Maricopa, Pinal and Pima counties just this year. Sadly, 20 people died including eight under the age of 5.


While drownings in pools get the most attention, nationwide more actually happen in open water. According to Safe Kids Worldwide, 43% of children and teens drown in open water compared to 38% in pools.

[RELATED: 6 life-saving pool rules to keep your children safe this summer]

[READ MORE: Heading to a pool? Follow these safety tips for a safe swim]

Safe Kids Worldwide also found 1,002 children drowned in 2016 while roughly 7,000 more went to the emergency room for a drowning scare. 

Swimming in the open water is much different than a backyard pool. Open water can be choppy and have a current or undertow. It’s important to know the difference and teach your children about the hidden hazards of swimming in a lake or river.

[MORE: Safety expert warns about popular children's swim toy]

The Peoria Fire Department wants people to consider the following tips next time they head out to the lake.

  • Never swim near the back of the boat
  • Check the weather since windy conditions can lead to choppy water and boats can overturn 
  • Children under 14 should always wear a life jacket even if they're a strong swimmer
  • Never dive head first into the open water
  • Know the difference between open water and pools
  • Always have constant eye-to-eye supervision with children around water

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Kylee CruzArizona native Kylee Cruz joined CBS 5 News as a reporter in August 2014. You can catch her reporting every morning on CBS 5's "Wake Up Arizona!" and 3TV's "Good Morning! Arizona." She's also a fill-in weather anchor.

Click to learn more about Kylee.

Kylee Cruz

Before working in Phoenix, Kylee spent three years reporting for KXLY in Spokane, WA During her time in the Inland Northwest, Kylee reported on a wide variety of topics from winter snowstorms to summer wildfires, and regularly filled in on the anchor desk. Kylee grew up in Yuma and graduated summa cum laude from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. While in college, Kylee covered her first big story in Tucson when Rep. Gabby Giffords was shot. She was selected as the Cronkite School’s Outstanding Graduate and was even the university’s Homecoming Queen her senior year. Growing up, Kylee always knew she wanted to be a reporter. When she was just 6, her neighbor started calling her "Cub Reporter" because she asked so many questions. That curiosity has only grown over the years! When Kylee’s not reporting, she loves traveling, home decorating and trying out unique restaurants. She’s a bit of a foodie! Kylee’s always looking for a good story. If you have an idea, email her at kylee.cruz@cbs5az.com.

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