Summer’s approach means that swimming pools and spas are opening throughout the country, providing a way to cool off and slosh away the time. Sadly, though, it also means that hundreds of children will likely become injured or even drown in accidents that could have been prevented with a little more awareness about the dangers swimming pools pose to kids.
Each year, the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission launches a campaign aimed at improving pool safety. While the CPSC shares news releases, safety tips, and other important information relating to swimming pools through its portal poolsafety.gov, it is taking an extra step by launching a new website that focuses on what steps parents and guardians can take to ensure their children stay safe around pools.
CPSC Chairwoman Inez Tenenbaum, a long-time child-safety advocate, announced the new website, called poolsafely.gov, yesterday at the Fort Lauderdale Aquatic Complex. She was accompanied by Olympic gold medalist swimmers Jason Lezak and Janet Evans, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), and Nancy Baker, the mother of Virginia Graeme Baker, a 7-year-old girl who died in 2002 when she became stuck to the drain on the bottom of a friend’s pool.
During the ceremony, Tenenbaum also released the CPSC’s latest report on drownings and non-fatal submersions and entrapments.
Statistics show 385 children age 15 and younger died on average in pool and spa-related drowning incidents from 2005-2007. Of that number, 299 children (about 78 percent) were younger than 5 years old.
An estimated 4,200 children under 15 years old were treated in hospital emergency rooms for pool submersion injuries from 2007-2009. About half of these children were aged 12 to 35 months.
About 54 percent of the estimated injuries for 2007-2009, and 74 percent of the fatalities for 2005-2007 involving children younger than 15 occurred at a residence.
“It is important to keep in mind that these numbers represent family tragedies. Preventing child drownings year round is a priority for the CPSC. The Pool Safely campaign will start a national conversation with parents and children, pool owners and operators and industry professionals about the simple safety steps they can take to protect themselves and their families in and around pools and spas,” Tennenbaum said.
“These incidents are preventable, so our mission is to change the way families think and act about pool and spa safety,” she said.
“I have been involved in the issue of pool safety throughout my career and today marks a key milestone in the ongoing fight to reduce accidental drowning,” said Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, author of the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act, which was designed to make pools safer.
“Educating communities on the potential dangers of swimming pools is a critical tool in saving the lives of our children,” Schultz said.
The Pool Safely campaign’s central message is that by adding just one extra safety step in and around the water, adults can make all the difference in the life and future of a young child.
These measures include completely surrounding the pool with self-closing,
self-latching gates; staying close to children near the pool, being alert, and watching children vigilantly. It is also important to learn and practice water safety skills (knowing how to swim and perform CPR); and having the appropriate equipment such as compliant
drain covers, alarms, barriers and sensors.
“No matter how responsible you already are, there is always one more safety step you can take to protect your child. That is how you can Pool Safely,” swimmer Lezak said.