Memorial Day marks the beginning of summer fun and activities for people throughout the country. For millions of Americans, summer fun involves cleaning the back yard pool for the season’s first use or heading to the community pool with the kids, which is why the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission released its latest pool and spa safety report just before the Memorial Day weekend.
The report contains updated data on child drowning deaths and injuries in pools and spas. The CPSC’s records reveal that approximately 300 children under the age of 5 drown in swimming pools and spas every year, while some 3,000 others receive injuries that require emergency medical attention. Pool and spa-related accidents often cause serious, debilitating, and lifelong injuries.
About two-thirds of those deaths and injuries involved the youngest children between 1 and 2 years of age, and 80 percent of all the fatalities happened in a residential pool, be it at the victim’s home, or in a pool belonging to friends, other family, or neighbors. According to the CPSC, “Drowning occurs more commonly when children get access to the pool during a short lapse in adult supervision.” In community or public pools, children who are trapped underwater or struggling to stay afloat are more likely to be noticed by lifeguards or other pool users if the parents fail to notice.
Data collected by the CPSC from 1999 to 2008 reveals that 83 incidents of pool and spa entrapments were reported which resulted in 11 deaths and 69 injuries.
At a press conference Friday, CPSC Acting Chairman Nancy Nord gathered with other safety advocates, including Scott Taylor, whose daughter received fatal injuries from an evisceration incident in a wading pool, to remind parents, caregivers, and pool owners to make safety a top priority this swimming season.
“Preventing child drownings is a key part of CPSC’s mission. I call upon all parents, caregivers and pool and spa operators to ensure that fencing and other layers of protection are in place; that there is constant supervision of children in and around the water; and that new, safer drain covers that prevent entrapment incidents are installed,” Nord said.
The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act (P&SSAct), which was signed into law in December of 2007 and went into effect last December, boosts pool safety by requiring all public pools and spas to have anti-entrapment drain covers, and in some case, an additional anti-entrapment system. Because most fatalities and injuries involve young children, the CPSC has made regulation and enforcement of safety measures in public wading pools, kiddie pools, and in-ground spas its highest priority.
To learn what you can do to make sure your children remain safe this summer, visit the CPSC’s new website about pool and spa safety.