CPSC Announces New Report on Child Drownings and Near-drownings in Pools and Spas, Federal Pool and Spa Safety Act Aims to Make Pools and Spas Safer

May 21, 2009
Release Number: 09-229

With Memorial Day weekend approaching and pools across the country opening, a new report (PDF) released today by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) provides updated

About two-thirds of the pool and spa-related deaths and injuries involve children ages 1-2, with about 80% of the drowning fatalities occurring in residential settings, such as the victim’s home, a family or friend’s house or at a neighbor’s residence.

New data (PDF) from CPSC also shows that from 1999 through 2008, there were 83 reports of pool and spa entrapments, including 11 deaths and 69 injuries. Since 1999, 14% of the reported suction/entrapment incidents at pools or spas were fatal.

At a press conference today on Capitol Hill, CPSC Acting Chairman Nancy Nord joined Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Safe Kids USA, and Scott Taylor (the father of Abigail Taylor, who suffered fatal injuries from an evisceration incident in a wading pool), to encourage parents, caregivers, and pool owners to make safety a top priority as the summer swim season officially opens.

“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,” said Acting Chairman Nord.

“I want to thank the Congress for providing CPSC with funds this year to implement the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act. This is an important child safety law and CPSC will use the new funds to increase compliance with the law, educate on pool and spa safety measures, implement the state grant program, partner with state and local government on enforcement, and make pools and spas even safer,” added Nord.

The Pool and Spa Safety Act (P&SSAct) went into effect on December 19, 2008 and requires all public pools and spas to have anti-entrapment drain covers, and in certain circumstances, an additional anti-entrapment system. CPSC has prioritized public wading pools, kiddie pools and in-ground spas as the key areas of focus for enforcement and has called upon state departments of health to assist the agency in enforcing the law.

CPSC is also announcing the launch of a new Web site - www.PoolSafety.gov - which serves as a valuable source for information about the P&SSAct and drowning prevention. The new site provides information for the general public, the swimming pool and spa community, state and local officials, and the media.

Drowning occurs more commonly when children get access to the pool during a short lapse in adult supervision. To reduce the risk of drowning, pool owners should adopt several layers of protection, including physical barriers, such as a fence completely surrounding the pool with self-closing, self-latching gates to prevent unsupervised access by young children. If the house forms a side of the barrier, use alarms on doors leading to the pool area and/or a power safety cover over the pool. In addition, reports of children exiting the house via a pet door have been on the rise.