WASHINGTON – In anticipation of family gatherings around public and residential pools during the Independence Day holiday, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) Pool Safely campaign is urging parents and children to follow 10 steps to stay safer when spending time in or near the water. According to media reports and data compiled by the USA Swimming Foundation, at least 152 children younger than 15 fatally drowned in a swimming pool or spa this year, with at least 86 of those fatal drownings happening since Memorial Day weekend.
The July 4th holiday has traditionally seen an increase in the number of fatal pool and spa drownings, as compared with fatal drownings during other weeks. Data compiled from media reports by the USA Swimming Foundation for the last four years indicate that an average of 23 children fatally drowned in pools and spas during the week of July 4th (June 30th through July 6th). In 2014, there were 21 fatal drownings reported involving children younger than 15 during the week of the July 4th holiday; 23 fatal drownings were reported in 2013; 30 fatal drownings were reported in 2012; 24 fatal drownings were reported in 2011; and 25 fatal drownings were reported in 2010.
“Fatal drownings don’t look like they do in the movies – they’re silent, happen in an instant and devastate families for a lifetime,” said Chairman Elliot F. Kaye. “There are simple steps, though, that families can take to be sure that their time around the water is safer this holiday weekend: adults need to be designated as Water Watchers and ensure their only task is to watch kids in the water. Fences with locking gates should completely enclose the pool, and kids need to be signed up for swim lessons with certified instructors. Drowning is 100 percent preventable.”
CPSC reports that during the period 2010-2012 an average of nearly 400 children younger than 15 fatally drown in a pool or spa each year, with 75 percent of those incidents involving children younger than five. Children between the ages of one and three and African-American children between the ages of five and 19 are most likely to drown, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Pool Safely is CPSC’s public education and outreach effort to prevent drownings and entrapments in swimming pools and spas.
Here are Pool Safely’s Top 10 Tips to Stay Safer Around the Pool or Spa this Holiday Weekend:
- Learn how to swim and teach your child how to swim.
- Install a four-foot or taller fence around the entire perimeter of the pool and use self-closing and self-latching gates; ask your neighbors to do the same at their pools.
- Never leave a child unattended in or near a pool or spa and always watch your children closely around all bodies of water.
- Designate a Water Watcher to supervise children in the pool or spa. This person should not be reading, texting, using a smart phone or be otherwise distracted. Adults can take turns being a Water Watcher.
- If a child is missing, look for him or her in the pool or spa first.
- Keep children away from pool drains, pipes and other openings to avoid entrapments.
- Ensure any public pool and spa you use has drain covers that comply with federal safety requirements, and, if you do not know, ask the pool manager if the facility complies with the “VGB Act.”
- Learn how to perform CPR on children and adults, and update those skills regularly.
- Install and use a lockable safety cover on your spa.
- Have lifesaving equipment such as a life ring, float or fiberglass reaching pole available and accessible.