May 21, 2008

 U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
 Office of Information and Public Affairs Washington, DC 20207

 May 21, 2008
 Release #08-276

 CPSC Hotline: (800) 638-2772
 CPSC Media Contact: (301) 504-7908

 New Report Shows Increase In Pool and Spa Drownings
 New Federal Law Aims to Make Millions of Pools and Spas Safer

 WASHINGTON, D.C. - A new report (pdf) issued today by the staff of the
 U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) indicates that the average
 number of drowning deaths involving children younger than 5 in pools and
 spas has increased from a yearly average of 267 (for 2002-2004) to 283
 (for 2003-2005). The average number of emergency room treated pool and spa
 submersion injuries decreased from an annual average of 2,800 (for
 2004-2006) to 2,700 (for 2005-2007). The report also shows that the
 majority of deaths and injuries occur in residential settings and involve
  children ages 1-2. Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death to
  children ages 1-4.
  At a press conference today, CPSC Acting Chairman Nancy Nord, Florida
  Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Safe Kids USA parent advocate
  Nancy Baker, and American Red Cross Chief Public Affairs Officer Suzy
  DeFrancis came together in an effort to reduce the number of drownings and
  injuries this summer. Parents, caregivers, and pool owners were encouraged
  to make safety a top priority at the pool and spa.
  A new federal pool and spa safety law was signed by the President on
  December 19, 2007. The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act
  requires that by December 19, 2008, all public pools and spas have safety
  drain covers, and in certain circumstances, an anti-entrapment system. The
  goal of the law is to improve the safety of all pools and spas by
  increasing the use of layers of protection and promoting uninterrupted
  supervision to prevent child drownings and entrapments.
  "CPSC is calling upon all public pool and spa owners to comply with the
  new federal law and we urge parents to never let their children out of
  sight when they are in or around a pool or spa," said CPSC Acting Chairman
  "The tragedy of hundreds of children dying each year from accidental
  drowning and four times as many who are near-drowning victims with
  devastating injuries, is made even more painful by the knowledge that
  these types of accidents are preventable," said Rep. Debbie Wasserman
  Schultz. "Parents should know that simple safety measures for their pool
  or spa could very well prevent their own child from being lost through
  such nightmare scenarios as accidental drowning or entrapment."
  "This legislation helps give meaning to the tragic circumstances that took
  Graeme's life and the lives of many other children," said Nancy Baker
  whose 7-year-old daughter died in 2002 when she was entrapped underwater
  by the suction of a spa's drain. "It is a tribute to these children and
  their grieving families that this law will prevent injuries and deaths as
  a result of drowning. Graeme would be honored that it is in her name."
  New CPSC data (pdf) also shows that between 1999 and 2007 there were 74
  reported incidents involving entrapment, resulting in 9 deaths and 63
  injuries. Six of the deaths occurred in pools and three occurred in spas
  and all of the deaths except for one involved children 14 or younger.
  These entrapment incidents involve being trapped by the force of suction
  at the drain and can occur because of a broken or missing outlet cover.
  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.
  "I encourage all parents to contact their local American Red Cross chapter
  and ask about the many services offered," said Suzy DeFrancis, Chief
  Public Affairs Officer for the American Red Cross. "From CPR and First Aid
  training to the Learn to Swim program, the Red Cross can be your greatest
  resource to preventing any pool and spa accidents this summer."
  In addition, parents should use these tips to help prevent drowning
  Since every second counts, always look for a missing child in the pool
  first. Precious time is often wasted looking for missing children anywhere
  but in the pool.
  Don't leave toys and floats in the pool that can attract young children
  and cause them to fall in the water when they reach for the items.
  Inspect pools and spas for missing or broken drain covers.
  Do not allow children in a pool or spa with missing/broken covers.
  Inserting an arm or leg into the opening can result in powerful suction
  and total body submersion/drowning.
  For above-ground and inflatable pools with ladders, remove or secure the
  ladder when the pool is not in use.
  It is important to always be prepared for an emergency by having rescue
  equipment and a phone near the pool. Parents should learn cardiopulmonary
  resuscitation (CPR).