By: Elliot F. Kaye, Chairman, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
The opening ceremony of the Olympic Games is only hours away and the excitement is building all over the world! The Olympics are synonymous with breathtaking athletic achievement, stunning new records and memorable displays of speed, endurance and poise. The swimming events are certainly one of the highlights. For one exciting week, we watch incredible athletes who make being in the water look as natural as breathing.
But, as wonderful as swimming is, pools continue to present real drowning risks, especially for children.
To really prevent drownings, we have to accept this fact: drowning is a public health crisis. Did you know that the #1 cause of unintentional death for children ages 1-4 is drowning? It’s also the second leading cause of unintentional death among children younger than 15. Yet, as our Pool Safely campaign makes clear: child drownings are preventable.
We can keep kids safer in and around the water. We can do this, but we need to dramatically increase our nation’s awareness of the issue – and the solutions.
This is where the Games that kick-off tonight come in. The broadcast of the Olympics offers an unmatched opportunity to educate tens of millions of Americans about water safety. For this reason, we at CPSC teamed up with Representative Wasserman Schultz, a congressional leader on pool safety, and other leading players in the water safety community and the broadcast outlets for the Olympics to use this amazing and unique platform to spread this safety message in a way that only the Olympics can do.
So, as the swimming competition unfolds, keep an eye out for the Pool Safely campaign on TV, on social media and online. You’ll see Katie Ledecky teaching young girls how to swim and how to pool safely. You’ll see Missy Franklin on behalf of the U.S.A. Swimming Foundation encouraging parents to sign their child up for swim lessons and talking about the values she learned from her mother. A new Pool Safely public service announcement about the importance of installing a fence with a locking gate around the entire pool will debut during the Games. And, you’ll see Josh the Otter from the Joshua Collingsworth Foundation making water safety fun for kids.
Most importantly, as Katie Ledecky and Missy Franklin compete for gold, please follow their advice: Install four-sided fences with a locking gate around pools and regularly inspect them. Maintain working alarms on doors leading to the pool. Sign your kids up for swim lessons. Learn CPR. Keep kids away from pool drains. Be a designated Water Watcher.
This is the perfect time to show you too can do what Katie Ledecky can do. She was the first person to ever take the Pool Safely Pledge. You can do it too. Take the Pool Safely Pledge.
Together, we can reverse the trend and stop fatal and non-fatal child drownings. As we say at Pool Safely, you never know which step will save a life, until it does.