Canals are vital to the survival of our Valley cities and many are landscaped and presented as recreational areas. Canal banks are open for walking, running and bicycling in most areas. However, it is important to understand these waters are not a place for children to play and need to be taken seriously by all of Arizona’s residents. Anyone using the canal banks always should keep in mind that the canals, canal banks and associated facilities are built and maintained for the primary purpose of transmission and distribution of water.
On April 9, 2011, Brenan Thomson, 6 and brother Rylan, 5, fell into a canal near their Gilbert home after a bike ride. Brenan died that night. Their bikes and a pair of shoes were found on the canal bank. Brenan’s dad, Cody Thomson, became an advocate for change. He has joined the DPCA to collaborate on safety standards for canals and home builders who develop communities by canals. The hope is that canal operators and builders can agree to a matrix of “good, better, best” safety solutions that can be followed without the need for legislative intervention.
The Coalition is also collaborating on educational messages regarding canal safety. Many safety educators are already addressing water safety in their discussions. The DPCA is encouraging the inclusion of canals in these venues.
The Drowning Prevention Coalition of Arizona has partnered with Salt River Project, Banner Children’s Hospital, Phoenix Children’s Hospital and the Arizona Multi-housing Association to create an activity sheet that can be utilized for a child and an adult. One side features a learning activity for the child while the other side features safety tips for adults. You can download a copy of the activity sheet to the right. For multiple copies, contact SRP Safety Connection. www.srpnet.com/safety/home/materials.aspx