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3 children visiting Phoenix area pulled from swimming pools over holiday weekend

"When children are found in the water, and they receive CPR immediately, they can still have...
"When children are found in the water, and they receive CPR immediately, they can still have life-threatening injuries," safety expert Tiffaney Isaacson.(AZ Family)
Published: Dec. 1, 2021 at 8:44 AM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Three families who were visiting the Phoenix area during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend are dealing with unimaginable trauma after their children were found unresponsive in backyard swimming pools.

The recent drowning and near-drowning cases are prompting first responders to remind everyone to have a conversation about water safety, no matter how chilly it is outside or how cold the pool water might feel. They say it’s critical to discuss drowning dangers and the safety measures you have in place as you plan your next holiday gathering.

Lori Schmidt, president of the Drowning Prevention Coalition of Arizona and spokesperson for the Scottsdale Fire Department, pleads with people to pay attention to their homes, friends’ homes, or homes that visitors might rent over the holiday season. “Water safety is a year-round concern,” she said. She urges everyone to discuss it with their friends and family and ask if the home they’re going to has a pool and a pool fence.

According to authorities, two incidents -- one deadly and one a near-drowning over the holiday weekend -- had two things in common. Both cases involved toddlers who were at short-term vacation rental homes with pools but no pool fences.

In the first instance, a girl who was not quite 2 was pulled from a backyard pool at a home near 10th Street and Citrus Way, just south of Maryland Avenue. The toddler was rushed to the hospital but died the next day.

Later on Thanksgiving Day, Tempe firefighters and police officers were called to a home near McClintock Drive and Southern Avenue. According to police, the family was watching a movie when they noticed their 22-month-old boy was missing. They found him floating face-down in the backyard pool. He survived. Detectives said the home is an Airbnb rental.

The day after Thanksgiving, the Scottsdale Fire Department responded to the Independence 47 Hotel near Pima Road and Talking Stick Way.

A 7-year-old girl nearly drowned in the hotel pool. Unlike the two vacation rentals, the hotel pool is surrounded by a pool fence. It’s unclear how long the little girl was in the water. She was rushed to the hospital, but her condition was not immediately available.

Drowning is preventable

Tiffaney Isaacson, a safety expert at Phoenix Children’s, said toddlers are curious about water and don’t know or care what the temperature is. That’s why it’s essential that parents -- or anyone around kids -- stay vigilant and don’t get distracted.

“When children are found in the water, and they receive CPR immediately, they can still have life-threatening injuries,” Isaacson said. “A lot of the children we see transported to local hospitals do not survive their injuries. And many of the children who do survive will have devastating lifelong injuries, including neurological injuries. They’ll have problems with their digestive systems, their muscle development. In short, we really want to see families have a wonderful time this holiday season in their homes, and we don’t want to see them needing to call 911 because of a drowning.”

Because one of the incidents happened at an Airbnb property, Arizona’s Family reached out to the company to find out if it requires hosts to disclose whether properties have pool fences. An Airbnb spokesperson sent us a statement and a link to its safety information page.

“Safety is a top priority and Airbnb’s Terms of Service require that all Arizona vacation rental hosts adhere to local pool safety rules and regulations in order to use our platform. We work with our hosts to provide guests with safety information and warnings with regards to pools and hot tubs.”

ABCs of water safety

  • Active adult supervision
  • Barriers like pool fences and locks
  • Classes like CPR and swim lessons

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