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  • Janice Jaicks

Put the Phone Down: A Plea for Your Child’s Safety

The direct link between child drownings and smartphone distractions of responsible adults “on duty” needs more press. As the second-leading cause of death in children from one to fourteen years old in the United States, senseless drowning needs to be top of mind for anyone with a child near a body of water. In Arizona in particular, children between the ages of one and four are drowning at nearly two times the national rate. According to Phoenix Children’s Hospital Senior Injury Prevention Specialist Tiffaney Isaacson, the common theme in these cases is that the children are unattended and/or the parents are distracted when the children are in or near the water.

In 2015, a Texas mother was charged after texting on her cellphone while THREE of her children drowned in an apartment complex pool.

In 2018, a mother in Idaho Falls was charged after her 13-month-old died while taking a bath; the mother admitted to playing on her cellphone for up to 30 minutes before discovering what had happened.

In 2019, an 11-month-old was pulled from a toilet in Phoenix after her 16-year-old sister admitted to “losing track” of the child while she was on her phone.

Sharon Evans of Cook Children’s Hospital in Texas asserts, “I don’t think parents understand how quickly and quietly drowning occurs. There is no thrashing, no yelling for help. The drowning child is just trying to push down on the water to get their head above the surface to gasp a breath of air.”

With 2020’s COVID-19 pandemic and the stay-at-home guidelines in place, Desert Swim School owner Janice Jaicks cautions EVERYONE to be vigilant about water safety. “We are all spending a great deal of time at home right now. Whether you have a pool at home or in your community, you’re a caregiver watching other children, even if you’re a neighbor with a pool -- there is NO substitute for eye-to-eye contact when children are near water.”

Jaicks’ swim school has been offering backyard swimming lessons since 1985 in the East Valley, and they are currently filling the summer calendar. “Desert Swim School offers lessons that are a perfect mixture of serious swim skills and fun, all in the comfort of your own backyard. We take precautions regarding the virus and we employ the same small team of instructors throughout the season. There is no such thing as ‘drown-proofing’ your child,” Jaicks’ says, “but we can certainly teach them how to swim.” To learn more about Desert Swim School visit or contact Janice Jaicks directly at 480-570-3398 (text ok!).

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