Campaign highlights drowning impact awareness month

The child drowning rate in Arizona is 25% more than the national average.

Now local leaders are trying to change that.

Danielle Miller is live to tell us about the kick off for the 12th Annual Drowning Impact Awareness Month.

The annual campaign is Arizona's largest water safety effort.

Since the start, officials have been passing out purple ribbons to raise awareness for drowning prevention.

Since the campaign started, over 1 million ribbons have been handed out.

At the event, seven tiny pairs of shoes represent the seven children who have lost their life in a drowning accident so far this year in the valley. Six additional children have drowned in other parts of the state.

These 1,700 purple ribbons represent the number of water-related incidents involving children since 2000.

"It can happen to anyone, you can't think that it can't," said Shani O'Malley.

O'Malley is a parent who knows it all too well; she was at Phoenix Children's Hospital 11 years ago preparing for the worst.

Her son Zane Hayes was found in the bottom of the pool at his daycare center when he was just three years old.

"In his instance he wasn't splashing and yelling for help, he just started to learn how to swim, but I think he just got overwhelmed and got spooked, and just panicked and never came back up out of the water," said O'Malley.

After being in a coma for several days, Little Zane's lungs started to improve. He's now 14, healthy, and thriving.

Chandler Fire Chief Jeff Clark says most outcomes are much different than this one, and usually end in tragedy.

"An inch of water with a baby laying face down that cant lift their neck is going to drown that baby and really how long it takes to drown, it takes one breath. One breath of water and you can't make it back to ther surface, you're going to go to the bottom and you're going to start gasping and you're going to suck in water," said Chief Jeff Clark. 

Chandler Fire says they plan to spend the rest of the month going door to door to raise awareness. Banners will be hanging in their downtown area all month long.

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