First responders fear a record year of drowning deaths


First responders are urging the public to be extra vigilant about the dangers of drowning after a spate of incidents in recent days.

Together, Clark County Fire, Las Vegas Fire and Rescue, and North Las Vegas Fire say they responded to an alarming 55 calls that were classified as “drowning incidents” between May 1 and June 20.

So far this year, there have been 19 deaths and officials fear that the Las Vegas area may be on the way to another record, unless precautionary measures are taken.

“Unfortunately during my career I’ve seen infants drown in a bucket of water,” said Deputy Fire Chief Jeff Buchanan, Clark County Fire Dept. “It can happen to anyone anywhere.”

According to the Southern Nevada Health District, drowning is a leading cause of injury-related death among Clark County children aged 1 to 4 years. That’s why first responders are reminding the public, the importance of prevention.

jeff buchanan – deputy fire chief
“It’s seconds to succumb underwater. Statistics vary how long before it could be a fatal incident. What we want to do is be preventative,” Buchanan said.

This is why they are sending the three P’s message.

Patrol — Always designate a water watcher any time children are around water.

Protect — Install barriers like fences and door alarms between your home and pool to ensure safety.

Prepare — Enroll your children in swimming lessons.

“For those parents out there, this is not only for swimming in pools, it is in bathtubs if you have an infant  at home. It’s so important that you don’t step away to get the washcloth,” he said.

And just like first responders, recreation specialist, and one parent agree that learning how to swim is crucial.

“It’s really important to learn how to swim before the summer starts,” said Travis Smith, recreation specialist.

“It was very important that she would be able to swim and be able to stay afloat on her own and not have to be in a situation where she could drown or get hurt,” said Ana Wagner, parent.

“If you have the means or you have the ability to teach your child how to swim, we are advocating for that,” Buchanan said. “You want to make sure that your pools have the right safety equipment .

Aside from that, have the proper barriers, fences around the pool, locking gates and nothing around those barriers and, last but not least, know how to access 911 in case of any emergency. 

“I didn’t want my kid to drown,” Wagner said.

“The biggest tip that I could tell parents is just make sure that you remember accidents happen very fast. So, just in the time it takes you to pull out your phone and answer a quick phone call or run inside to check on lunch, that can be the time that it takes for a child to go under,” Smith said.

Clark County Parks and Recreation offers swim lessons year-round. And there are even scholarships available that offer to pay 50-percent of those costs.

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