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Monday, June 24, 2024

11 Valley Families Awarded Free Pool Fences through 3rd Annual Child Crisis Arizona Pool Fence Safety Program

By Alison Bailin Batz

Tarry Weatherly, is a devoted grandmother with a heart as vast as her bustling home. Amidst the joyful chaos of caring for her six grandchildren, one of whom navigates life in a wheelchair due to cerebral palsy, Tarry stands resilient alongside her husband who is a disabled veteran, her daughter, and an ailing aunt.

In the midst of life’s whirlwind, their home lacked a crucial safety feature—a pool fence.

“Drowning remains the leading cause of death of children 1 to 4 years old and remains among the top five causes of death for children ages 5 to 9 years old,” emphasizes Caitlin Sageng, Senior Program Director at Child Crisis Arizona. “In response to this urgent need, three years ago, we teamed up with SRP and the United Phoenix Firefighters Charities, now known as the 493 Firefighter Foundation, to pioneer the Pool Fence Safety Program. Our mission? To equip families like the Weatherly’s with the vital protection they deserve, free of charge.”

While no single measure can single-handedly avert such tragedies, the program strives to create multiple layers of defense, surrounding children with safety.

This year, Child Crisis Arizona is pleased to announce the Weatherly’s and 10 other Valley-wide families are recipients of pool fences. In the span of two weeks, these fences have found their place in eleven backyards, providing safety and peace of mind. These households include families where the grandparents serve as primary caregivers, single-parent households, and households where children are in the adoption process.

“SRP is deeply committed to improving water safety for the children and families of our community,” says Rori Minor, SRP Community Engagement Strategist. “As the largest provider of water in the Valley for the past century, continuing our efforts to improve water safety is a top priority not only for us, but also for the 1 million people we serve. Through our partnership with Child Crisis Arizona, we hope to educate families and provide quality resources to help keep our children safe and comfortable around water.”

In addition to hosting the Pool Fence Safety program, Child Crisis Arizona is also home to Safe Kids Maricopa County, a local chapter of a worldwide organization aiming to prevent childhood injury and death. Through this program, Child Crisis Arizona offers dozens of no-cost, online, and in-person safety courses including their virtual Water Safety Workshop available online at childcrisisaz.org.

Fast facts from the Child Crisis Arizona Pool Fence Safety Program for all caregivers:

  • A pool fence should surround all sides of the pool and be at least five feet tall with self-closing and self-latching gates.
  • Make sure that all furniture is on the inside of the pool fence so that children cannot use it to climb over the fence. 
  • Ensure that the pool gate is always properly latched and closed and that it is not broken.
  • Children should not be able to go under, over, or around the pool fence.
  • Children can be small enough to fit through a doggie door when parents are not aware. Lock doggie doors so that it creates a barrier between the child and water.
  • Never allow a child to sit on or next to a drain. Teach your child not to swim or play near the drain.
  • Swim with a partner. Keep young children and weak swimmers within arm’s reach of an adult. Make sure older children swim with a partner every time.

“This year we have already seen a record number of drownings,” said David J. Ramirez, City of Phoenix firefighter and 493 Foundation Program Director. “I can’t stress enough how crucial it is to keep an eye on children around any body of water at all times. Not only swimming pools but also small plastic pools and tubs. This paired with safety barriers, and teaching kids early water survival skills are the greatest lines of defense against drownings.”

Together, Child Crisis Arizona, SRP, and 493 Firefighter Foundation are committed to helping solve the community problem of child drownings and to stepping up and leading the mission toward measurable change.

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