LIFESAVING RESOURCES' E-BLAST
May 21, 2008
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
Office of Information and Public Affairs Washington, DC 20207
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 21, 2008
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