“Life vests are not just for boating!” That was the theme of Wednesday’s water safety event put on by the Mesa Fire and Medical Department at Superstition Canyon Apartments.
“Young children and weak swimmers should wear life vests whenever they are in, on, or around the water, even at a pool or a waterpark,” said Michele Long, fire and life safety education administrator with the Mesa Fire and Medical Department. “Arizona ranks No. 2 in drownings nationwide.”
That statistic is mind boggling in a desert, but Long says many of those drownings are adults making poor decisions or children not being properly protected.
That’s why Long showed up with representatives of Mountain Vista Medical Center to announce the Apartment Life Vest Loaner Program, which is providing U.S. Coast Guard-approved life vests in multiple sizes for Superstition Canyon tenants to borrow while in the pool area of the apartment complex. They come complete with head rests for added flotation safety.
The program’s goal is to increase awareness of the importance of using a life vest both in and around water in addition to direct adult supervision while reducing the number of drownings in community pools.
“We’re trying to educate parents not to use floaties, but life vests,” Long said while demonstrating the correct fit of a life vest. “You really want a life vest with three clips and U.S. Coast Guard approved. The first thing you want to do when you put it on your child is tug at the top of the life vest and if it goes up to their ears it’s too big.”
Quizzing the crowd, Long held up arm floaties and asked if they keep you safe or are just tools.
“Tools is the correct answer because they can pop or slide off,” she warned.
The safety event proved helpful for those families who even know how to swim.
“I made sure my son knows water safety and the dangers of drowning in general,” said Megan Shapiro, who works and resides at the apartment complex. “But I learned today that it’s pretty scary that Arizona is at the top of the drowning list and we do a lot with water as a family.”
For current statistics, visit http://www.childrensafetyzone.com/go/water-related-incident-reports/maricopa-and-pinal-counties-valley-of-the-sun.
– Kelly Mixer is managing editor of MyNewsMesa.com. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.