Families stay cool in the pool with safety tips

A lifeguard keeps an eye on swimmers as she walks by the pool at Copper Sky's aquatic center on June 3, 2023. [Brian Petersheim Jr.]

As families lined up Saturday afternoon for open swim time at Copper Sky’s aquatic center, Maricopa Fire and Medical Department were on hand to provide resources for their Water Safety Day.

Jim Fuller and Richard Stanton of Maricopa Fire Corps join MFMD Captain Paul Neumann in passing out water safety materials at the Copper Sky Aquatic Center on June 3, 2023. [Brian Petersheim Jr.]
The event was the tail end of the department’s month-long water safety awareness campaign to prevent drownings in the city. Maricopa Fire Corps volunteers and MFMD firefighters set up a booth by the pool to talk to families and pass out educational materials.

“I’m excited with how many people have shown up,” said MFMD spokesperson Monica Williams. “We’re providing them with water safety materials, coloring books so kids can get engaged with it. It’s just trying to be actionable and give families the resources to keep their kids safe.”

Williams said members of the Professional Firefighters of Maricopa, MFMD’s union, also donated money to help cover pool admission costs for up to 125 children.

“It was really exciting to see their faces,” Williams said. “We didn’t promote that, so it was kind of a surprise to share with people when they arrived.”

The presence of firefighters and one of their trucks helped spark the curiosity of some children. This included Nicole Thompson’s family. 

“We saw the firemen and he stopped at that booth,” Thompson said. She stopped at the aquatic center for open swim time with her family and just happened upon the water safety event.  

“My son has a swim class in the morning, so we came back so he can practice some more,” she said. “I didn’t know there was (a water safety event) … but it’s good information.” 

Volunteers spent approximately three hours chatting with families about staying safe around pools, especially in the summer months. This included discussing the Five Layers of Protection, the National Drowning Prevention Alliance’s educational campaign to prevent childhood drownings.  

According to the NDPA, drowning is the leading cause of death of children ages 1-4. Since 2018, 16 drowning deaths were reported in Maricopa. All but three were children.  

While that messaging is important in the summer, Williams said it’s necessary throughout the year in Maricopa. 

“A lot of us have pools in our backyards or we come here to go swimming at Copper Sky, and we do that year-round here,” said Williams. “I think the more that we can put information in front of people and tell them water safety is important and drowning is preventable, the better.”