Phoenix Fire Department: Watch children around water and get the right equipment to help prevent drownings

Phoenix Fire Department and other agencies conducted a mock drowning to raise awareness of drowning danger. Actors included Jacob Hulett, who posed as the near drowning victim. (Photo by Lillian Simpson/Cronkite News)

A child is found floating, face down, in a hotel pool. A mother frantically begs for her child to breathe. He’s pulled out of the pool, and a hotel guest starts CPR as another guest stays on the line with an emergency dispatcher.

This time, it’s a drill.

But drownings – and near drownings – are a serious reality in Arizona. Phoenix fire officials staged the mock drowning and rescue of a young boy, Jacob Hulett, to raise awareness as the weather heats up and Arizona residents and tourists head to pools and lakes.

The Phoenix Fire Department said six people have drowned this year in the city.

“We have had 11 drowning incidents thus far in the city of Phoenix alone,” said Kelly Lieberman, spokesman for Phoenix Fire Department. Those include deaths and near drownings.
The fire department worked with the city Parks and Recreation Department and Salt River Project to conduct the mock drowning to educate the public on proper water safety.

Water-safety experts advise people to install barriers around a pool and to always designate an adult to watch the bath, pool or lake when others – including children – are in the water.

Phoenix Fire Capt. Ardell Deliz also said people shouldn’t rely on all flotation devices, like common pool toys.

“You want to use a flotation device that’s in the form of a jacket style. It’s buckled, it’s snug, it’s not riding up to your face,” said Deliz. Life jackets or PFDs, also known as personal flotation devices, are best.

And swim lessons are helpful. Phoenix will open registration for swim lessons on April 28. In some locations, SRP and the Diamondbacks have sponsored lessons for $3 per swim class to help the community prepare for pool season.

For more resources about drowning prevention, including swim lessons and CPR lessons, go to the Drowning Prevention Coalition of Arizona website.