#childsafety | Child drownings don’t take a break for winter, experts say



As the holidays approach, Phoenix Children’s is hopeful no one loses sight of the sad statistic that many children’s lives are lost this time of year to drownings.

PHOENIX — Drownings can happen, even in the winter months, when children are not expected to be near water.

As the holidays approach, Phoenix Children’s is hopeful no one loses sight of the sad statistic that so many children’s lives are lost this time of year to drownings. 

Even though it’s not pool season, people are still easily distracted, whether it’s guests, cooking, or simply the hustle and bustle of the holidays. 

“It was right in front of us, and there were four adults out here, and it happened,” said Brandi Stoll, whose 2-year-old daughter almost drowned last year. 

It was a summertime nightmare. Stoll’s daughter Alizah went underwater in the backyard pool after wandering outside.

“I got up from the chair, looked across the pool, and she was floating right by the top step.”

Now, she and advocates like Tiffaney Isaacson, a Senior Injury Prevention Specialist with Phoenix Children’s, are warning families this is not simply a summer threat but rather a year-round concern.

“The most recent report telling us about drowning deaths in Arizona, unfortunately, doubled,” Isaacson explained.

The Arizona Child Fatality Review program, that’s part of the Department of Health Services, released new data from 2020-2021, entailing that 100% of those deaths were preventable. That devastating fact prompted a partnership between Phoenix Children’s and SRP to prevent drownings.

“We meet with pediatricians in-person or online, and we give them information, training, literature, and resources, and we help them use their time during a “well-child” visit wisely, so they can talk about drowning prevention effectively to every single patient and parent,” she explained.

Over the last year, 44 lives were lost, with most of the fatalities impacting children under the age of four. Isaacson explained that 75% of those child deaths happened in swimming pools or hot tubs.

“It’s devastating to think about the impact of 44 deaths, and we also have to think about the children injured who will never recover. If you’re choosing where you want to go for a holiday party, choose a house that has a pool fence, and make sure that you know what to do if there’s an emergency.”

She added that knowing what to do, just like Stoll did last summer, is a life-saver and prevented her from almost losing her daughter.

“Where that ottoman is, I laid her out and started CPR. She had no pulse when firefighters arrived,” Stoll added.

Crews worked quickly to save Alizah, who’s now a thriving toddler, ready for the holidays.

RELATED: Swimming Safety Information

Drowning Prevention Tips:

Drowning is the leading cause of death for children between ages 1-4 aside from birth defects, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Three children die every day as a result of drowning. Here are some tips from the CDC on how to protect children around water:

Learn life-saving skills.

Everyone should know the basics of swimming (floating, moving through the water) and CPR.

Install a four–sided isolation fence, with self–closing and self–latching gates, around backyard swimming pools. This can help keep children away from the area when they aren’t supposed to be swimming. Pool fences should be completely separate the house and play area from the pool.

Make sure kids wear life jackets in and around natural bodies of water, such as lakes or the ocean, even if they know how to swim. Life jackets can be used in and around pools for weaker swimmers too.

When kids are in or near water (including bathtubs), closely supervise them at all times. Because drowning happens quickly and quietly, adults watching kids in or near water should avoid distracting activities like reading books, talking on the phone, or using alcohol and drugs.

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