Pool Safely Press Event, Monday, May 24, 2010, International Swimming Hall of Fame - Ft. Lauderdale, FL

May 24, 2010

Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz thank you so much for hosting today's event. It is a pleasure to be here in your district. You are a selfless advocate for the well being of children and your support for CPSC with additional funds and authorities have meant so much to our agency. Your constituents are fortunate to have you as their representative in Congress.

 

We are all here today for a simple but powerful reason: to save the lives of children in Florida and across the country this summer.

 

With Memorial Day Weekend fast approaching, the majority of pools and spas in this country will soon be open. And CPSC has new and troubling data to share. Our data is showing an average of 385 drowning deaths and 4,200 submersion injuries each year involving children younger than 15.

 

As you might imagine, the majority of these pool and spa incidents involve children under 5.

 

But contrary to what some may believe, pool and spa drownings do not involve a lot of splashing or yelling. They happen quickly and quietly.

 

A toddler wanders out of the open back door.

 

A neighbor's child wanders past an open gate.

 

This is why we are here. To prevent what can happen next.

 

To take up this cause like never before, the pool and spa safety community is joining forces today.

 

Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz. Nancy Baker and Karen Cohn, who have turned tragedy into advocacy. Janet Evans and Jason Lezak, proud Olympic swimming champions and parents. Safe Kids USA. American Red Cross. YMCA of the USA. National Drowning Prevention Alliance. Home Safety Council. Abbey's Hope. World Waterpark Association. Association of Pool and Spa Professionals. And my agency, the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

 

We are all joining forces today to launch a new program and to show our commitment to the safety of children. We are calling upon families and communities to take simple steps, simple steps that will save lives.

 

We are calling upon families and communities to Pool Safely. Pool Safely. This is the name of our brand new national campaign and it is a call to action.

 

From installing a 4 foot fence to having a working pool alarm. From securing the back door that leads to the pool to supervising young children every second they are in or around water.

 

These are simple and effective steps.

 

This campaign is one my highest priorities and one of the highest priorities of CPSC. We believe in the Pool Safely campaign and are so pleased to be partnering with Widmeyer Communications to spread the word about it across the country.

 

Throughout the year you will see innovative public service announcements, online and print advertisements, Facebook apps, online games, grassroots programs, training programs, and activities for families.

 

The funding for this campaign came from Representative Wasserman Schultz and the Appropriations Committee - we sincerely thank you for it.

 

The campaign we are launching today is a key part of CPSC's work to implement the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act.

 

This child safety law has helped make tens of thousands of pools safer by increasing the attention to a hidden and awful hazard. A hazard that does not happen quickly or quietly: drain entrapment.

 

Nancy Baker, who was the driving force behind the passage of this important law, will talk more about this hidden danger.

 

Parents should know that many public pools and spas across the country have installed new, safer drain covers as another step - this step being required by federal law - to keep their children safe.

 

And 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 open.

 

The law has been in effect since late 2008. There are no excuses at this point. Install the right equipment and comply with the law, so that you can open up and help the kids in your community have a fun and safe place to go.

 

Let me close my remarks by once again thanking all of our partners who are here today. I am very excited about the Pool Safely campaign and I encourage all of you to Pool Safely. If you do, it will save a life.

 

And now, I have the pleasure of introducing Nancy Baker - the mother of Virginia Graeme for whom the Act is named. Much of the work we have done at CPSC to implement the law has been our contribution to honoring Graeme.