Who doesn’t love summer? Summer is for picnics, the beach, BBQs, vacations, laughing, spending time with family and friends outdoors, and SWIMMING!
Swimming can be a great way for kids to play and exercise, yet I cannot emphasize enough the importance of safety around the water, especially for those with young children at pools. Parents and caregivers must be aware that pools are inherently dangerous and, while taking kids to a pool is fun, it is also a time for adults to be especially vigilant when it comes to safety.
We often think it will not happen to us – our kids know how to swim, we are watching them, our pool must be safe…
But I can tell you, it can happen and it does happen – way too often to parents and kids who have said and thought the same things.
Staggering Statistics in the US
Pool-related injuries and deaths are very real tragedies that devastate hundreds of American families every year. Here are some staggering statistics regarding pool safety:
- Every year, an estimated 5,100 children under age 15 visit a hospital emergency room due to a pool or spa related incident.
- On average, 385 children die every year due to pool-related accidents.
- Over three quarters of these injuries and deaths involve children under 5 years of age.
Please visit http://www.poolsafely.gov/ for a comprehensive guide on injury statistics and pool safety resources.
Sing the Steps to Pool Safely
These statistics are troubling and sadly a large number of these injuries and deaths could have been avoided by taking simple precautionary steps.
- Always watch your child when he or she is in or near water
- Ensure that your pool and spa have the proper safety gates and keep them locked
- Teach children to swim or at least basic water safety tips
- Keep children away from pool drains, pipes and other openings to avoid entrapments
- Share safety instructions with family, friends and neighbors
This year, CPSC and musical artist, Laurie Berkner, released the new Pool Safely song. We hope lots of kids will watch the video because it is an easy way to help them remember the four simple steps to pool safely.
Take the CPSC Pledge
I encourage everyone – adults and kids – to join me in celebrating Pool Safely Pledge Week (July 27 – August 2) by taking the CPSC’s Pool Safely Pledge. There are two separate pledges, one for kids and one for adults and they each contain simple, life-saving steps. Remember to follow all the steps because you never know which step will help save a life—until it does.
To increase awareness about how to make the pool a safer place, and to access other pool safely resources see here.
The Virginia Graeme Baker Act (VGBA) – Ensuring Drain Safety and Providing Grants
Congress enacted The Virginia Graeme Baker Act (VGBA), in an attempt to reduce the injuries and fatalities from pool-related accidents. VGBA was named after Virginia Graeme Baker, a seven-year-old girl who tragically lost her life when the powerful suction from a faulty hot tub drain pinned her underwater and is designed to raise awareness about drowning and entrapment prevention. VGBA requires all pool drain covers to meet certain safety standards that would completely eliminate the entrapment hazard. It is important that swimmers at pools everywhere know about these safety requirements. Whatever pool you and/or your kids use, whether it is a private pool at home or a public pool at a community center or hotel, make sure that it has safe drains as required in VGBA.
VGBA also aims to improve the safety of the nation’s pools and spas by implementing a grant program designed to support states that enact legislation increasing safety standards in and around pools. The deadline to submit an application to apply for the grant is August 19. I strongly urge states to continue improving their existing standards, as any improvement could ultimately save the life of a child.
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I love swimming and doing laps in a pool is one of my favorite workouts, yet it is essential to keep in mind how dangerous and life-changing this simple activity can be. Enjoy the remainder of your summer by your favorite pool, but please remember to Pool Safely!