WASHINGTON – The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) Pool Safely campaign wants parents and children to follow a few simple steps to stay safer when spending time in or near the water. Media reports and data from the USA Swimming Foundation indicate that at least 76 children younger than 15 have fatally drowned in a swimming pool or spa from January 1 through May 31 this year.
According to the Mingo County Sheriff’s Department, two local children have drowned during this summer’s pool season.
“Drownings are silent and can happen in an instant,” said CPSC Chairman Elliot F. Kaye. “Drowning is also 100 percent preventable. If families follow a few simple steps, we can keep many kids alive and happy during the Fourth of July holiday. Adults need to take turns designating themselves as Water Watchers. As a Water Watcher, your only task is to watch kids in the water, without distraction. Four-sided fences with locking gates should completely surround the pool. It is so important that kids learn how to swim from certified swim instructors. In addition, adults should teach kids to stay away from pool drains and filters.”
The July 4th holiday has traditionally seen an increase in the number of fatal pool and spa drownings. Data compiled from media reports by the USA Swimming Foundation for the last few years indicate that an average of 15 children fatally drowned in pools and spas during the week of July 4th (June 30 through July 6). In 2014, the USA Swimming Foundation reported at least 21 fatal drownings involving children younger than 15 during the week of Independence Day; the data showed at least 10 fatal drownings during the same week in 2015.
The latest annual data from CPSC found that fatal child drownings in pools and spas is down 11 percent nationwide since 2010. Despite the decrease, drowning is still the leading cause of unintentional death among children ages 1 to 4 years and the second leading cause of death in children ages 5 to 14 years old.
Annually, an average of 367 children younger than 15 fatally drown, and an average of 5,600 children are treated in emergency departments due to incidents in pools or spas.
Pool Safely is CPSC’s public education and outreach effort to prevent drownings and entrapments in swimming pools and spas. The campaign provides a number of resources to help parents teach their children about water safety, including a brand new Kids Corner on the campaign’s newly designed website where parents will find:
- the Pool Safely Song, written and recorded by children’s performer Laurie Berkner;
- the Adventures of Splish and Splash smartphone app, available for free download on Android and Apple products; and
- the Pool Safely Pledge, with Pledges specifically designed for kids (adults should take their version as well).