Recreation Management Rec Report - The Newsletter for Recreation, Sports & Fitness Facility Managers

Feature Story

October 2020


Pool Safely's New PSA Focuses on Child Drowning Prevention

Drowning is still the number-one cause of unintentional death among children between 1 and 4 years old, and deaths are rising among children ages 1 to 15. And with more families staying at home to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19, there is an increased risk of child drownings even as we reach the cooler months.

To address the problem and help educate the public, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission's national public education campaign to reduce child drownings, Pool Safely, has released a public service announcement, "What If Kids Had Gills and Fins?" The PSA aims to remind parents that kids can't swim like fish, and provides clear tips to keeping kids safer in and around the water.

While the PSA mainly addresses families, the tips are a good reminder for aquatic facilities, too—especially for pools operated by homeowners' associations and those in hotels and motels, where lifeguards are less likely to be present. Aquatic facilities can help reinforce the messaging by continuing to educate parents and children on water safety.

Water safety tips for families include:

  • Never leave a child unattended in or near water, and always designate an adult "water watcher." This person shouldn't be distracted (for example by reading or using a smartphone). Water watchers should be alert not only at swimming pools and spas, but also around decorative ponds and fountains—even bathtubs and buckets.
  • Pool and spa owners should install layers of protection, including a four-sided fence with a self-closing, self-latching gate.
  • Everyone should learn how to perform CPR on children and adults. Let visitors know if you offer CPR training in your community.
  • Encourage everyone to learn how to swim, parents and children alike.
  • Keep kids away from pool drains, pipes and other openings to avoid entrapments.
  • Ensure drain covers comply with federal safety standards.

According to the latest data from the CPSC, there were, on average, 379 reported pool-or-spa-related fatal drownings per year from 2015 to 2017 involving children younger than 15. Annual fatal drownings rates increased gradually between 2015 and 2017, with a spike of 395 reported fatalities involving children younger than 15 in 2017. Residential locations made up 71% of the reported fatal drowning incidents.


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