Children under the age of 5 comprised approximately 78 percent of pool- or spa-related submersion injuries nationwide in 2010, down only slightly from the previous year.
That translates into about 4,400 children 5 years old and younger
who were treated for such injuries in emergency rooms in 2010; an
identical number were treated in 2009.
Indeed, the latest drowning figures, many of which practically
mirror those of the preceding few years, were released late last
month by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission in concert
with the summer launch of its ongoing public-education campaign
aimed at reducing childhood drownings and entrapments in pools and spas.
The San Diego suburb of Chula Vista provided the backdrop for the
Pool Safely campaign’s second annual push. Though
Congressional funding for the campaign has not been earmarked
beyond September, CPSC officials were optimistic the message would endure.
“It’s going to continue. Here at CPSC, we will make
every effort to keep the materials coming and continue to put them
in the hands of our terrific partners,” said Kathleen Reilly,
public affairs specialist with the Washington, D.C.-based agency.
“From the rescue personnel and firefighters who make
inspection checks of home pools to the aquatics organizations that
teach swimming and CPR, it’s just a huge, huge effort,”
The campaign itself began in May 2010. It has been guided, in large
part, by PR partner Widmeyer Communications, whose contract ends
Meanwhile, Reilly said the CPSC is preparing to undertake a large
printing of campaign materials, also next month, which she expects
will sustain stakeholders through the summer and into next year.
The hope is that funding will re-emerge in 2012, Reilly said,
adding that Pool Safely is the largest campaign of its kind ever
managed by the CPSC.
Through tracking in the media, CPSC by early June had recorded 66
drownings and 83 near-drownings in 2011. Prior to Memorial Day,
there were 118, Reilly said. “So that’s another 31
incidents just in one week,” she noted, underscoring the
importance of sustaining the message.
The National Drowning Prevention Alliance, one of the
campaign’s largest stakeholders, continues to produce
educational materials and information featuring the Pool Safely
logo and its tagline, “Simple Steps Save Lives.” The
broad-based coalition of water-safety advocates was granted nearly
$1.3 million by the CPSC last year for a host of initiatives.
With that funding, NDPA officials hope to extend many of those
efforts, and others, at least through 2012.
“We’re developing a curriculum for pre-schoolers,
updating our Website, and launching new public relations and social
media campaigns,” said Kimberly Burgess, the group’s
executive director. “Plus we’re well into a pilot
program for residential-pool inspections, and working with USA
Swimming on a facility-management workshop.
“With [Pool Safely] being new and unique, it’s still
getting some good buzz,” she added. “After a year, it
still seems to be going strong. But like everything, the future of
these programs largely comes down to money.”