Mayor Coleman, thank you very much for that warm introduction and for this beautiful proclamation. Mayor, it is an honor to be in St. Paul and I commend you for your leadership and advocacy for the safety of your residents and visitors.
I am so pleased to launch Pool Safely Day in St. Paul. This is a nationwide effort today with more than 30 events in 12 states and the District of Columbia.
Our message from St. Paul to San Diego, from Minnesota to Montana, is a simple one: swimming occurs all year round in water parks, hotels, motels, and warm weather states; therefore, we need to protect children in and around the water all year round.
Communities from coast to coast are making drowning and drain entrapment prevention a priority today, but the Consumer Product Safety Commission made this event the heart of Pool Safely Day for two powerful reasons: to honor Abigail Taylor and to save the lives of children across Minnesota.
Katey and Scott [Taylor], your strength in the face of tragedy and passion for keeping Abigail's spirit alive through the Abbey's Hope Foundation is an inspiration to my agency. We thank you so much for being here and we want you to know that CPSC is a supporter of Abbey's Hope.
I want all parents to know that drowning is a leading - but preventable - cause of death and injury among children younger than five, and drain entrapment and evisceration is a hidden and horrific hazard that we are working to prevent.
The statistics from this past summer are very upsetting. Since Memorial Day weekend, the media has reported nearly 400 child drownings and near tragedies nationwide.
There were nearly 190 child drownings, 200 near tragedies, and one entrapment. Here in Minnesota, the media reported one drowning of a one year old girl.
Drowning is a silent killer, it happens quickly and quietly, and can strike anyone at any time.
We have come to the Great River Water Park at the Oxford Community Center - an outstanding aquatics center - to do something about these tragic statistics.
Our Pool Safely public education campaign is all about using and sharing the simple steps that can save a child's life.
CPSC, along with great partners like Abbey's Hope and the World Waterpark Association are teaching families and pool operators the simple steps that save lives in public and backyard pools.
Some of these lifesaving steps include: knowing CPR, always watching and being within reach of children in and around the water, teaching children how to swim, and installing safer drain covers.
These are simple steps that apply to water parks, hotels, motels, indoor community pools, as well as backyard pools.
Over the summer, CPSC released a series of high impact public service announcements. The PSAs are available for television, radio and print media in English and Spanish.
We really encourage all of you in the media to use them.
The PSAs show the importance of installing a four foot fence, having a working pool alarm, and securing the back door that leads to the pool.
This campaign is especially important for the African American and Hispanic communities. As USA Swimming and CDC have determined, there is a disproportionate risk of drowning for African American and Hispanic children.
According to USA Swimming, "in diverse communities, the youth drowning rate is two to three times higher than the national average. Nearly six out of 10 African American and Hispanic children are unable to swim, which is nearly twice as many as their Caucasian counterparts."
CPSC's Pool Safely and Minority Outreach campaigns are working to make a difference and reduce pool drownings in these communities.
I would like to close my remarks by recognizing that the passage of the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act is a key reason we are all gathered here today.
Parents should know that because of this child safety law many public pools and spas across Minnesota have installed new, safer drain covers. This is another safety step - this one being required by federal law - to keep children safe.
I want to reiterate a message I sent to public pool and spa operators when I first arrived at CPSC last summer - if your facility is not compliant with the Pool and Spa Safety Act, you should not be open.
Install the right equipment and comply with the law, so that you can stay open and help the kids in your community have a fun and safe place to go.
Adding extra safety steps around the water can make all the difference. You can never know which safety measure will save a life - until it does.
It is now my honor to have the opportunity to introduce one of our strongest champions of child safety in the U.S. Congress, Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar.
Senator Klobuchar is a leader and a friend. The Senator was instrumental in securing passage of both the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act and the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act.
I am so happy that she is able to join us today and so pleased to have her support as we continue to build a new and improved CPSC.