Nationally, close to 5,000 people drown every
year, and about 20,000 near-drownings result in hospitalization. In
2009, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services, there
were 99 accidental drownings in the state.
Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community Deputy Fire Marshal Julie
Evert explains how to be safe around water this summer. Evert has had
11 years of experience as a firefighter; six of them spent serving the
people in the Community.
Evert advised that the two most important things parents can do are to
learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and teach their children how
to swim, because it can save lives.
“It’s safe to swim at the Salt River and Lehi pools,
because they have lifeguards who know CPR and first aid and are
properly [trained] to care for someone [in case of an
emergency],” said Evert.
The Community pools were installed to give children a safe place to
swim and keep them out of ditches and canals. The pools are cleaner and
contain chlorine, which kills bacteria.
On the other hand, swimming in the ditches and canals can be hazardous
and even deadly.
“There are currents and undertows that hide in the canals, which
can pull you with the currents,” Evert said. She also explained
about recreational water illness, caused when the body is exposed to
contaminated water in ditches and canals through open cuts, pores and
even from swallowing and smelling it. This illness can cause ear, eye,
skin and wound infections, as well as diarrhea and dehydration.
The ditches and canals also may contain sewage, animal waste, trash,
sharp objects and broken glass. These can cause serious injury or even
So make sure to never swim at the canal; always travel to the Salt
River or Lehi pools. Remember, safety first. If you need immediate
medical assistance, call 9-1-1 and ask for Salt River Dispatch. If you
need non-emergency assistance, call (480) 850-9230.
Safety Tips at the River
• Have fun and be safe.
• Keep an eye on water conditions. If you note a sudden
temperature change in the water (which could cause hypothermia), a
faster current or a change in water color, get out of the water and
contact a Ranger for information.
• Be careful not to get caught in a current. If you do, make sure
you swim parallel with the shore until you can feel like you can get to
the shore. Don’t swim against the current.
• Never dive into shallow water.
• Never leave a child alone at the river, in a pool or canal, in a
bathtub or near any source of water.
• Never swim alone.
• Children and inexperienced swimmers should be aware that the
river has both shallow and deep spots.
• Please obey all the rules and posted signs.
• Pay attention to the weather during the monsoon season; keep an
eye out for lightning and dust storms.
• Inexperienced swimmers should have a personal floatation device
(this does not mean “floaties”).
• Avoid snakes and algae.
The Rules of 2
Sparkles the Clown from the Salt River Fire Department wants to remind
everyone about the Rules of 2 this summer:
• 2 inches of water is 2 much
• 2 seconds is 2 long
• Always swim in 2’s