A pair of U.S. Olympic medalists helped kick off the national campaign aimed at promoting pool and spa safety.
Launched May 24 at the International Swimming Hall of Fame in Fort
Lauderdale, Fla., the sweeping educational effort, ushered in by
swimming champions Janet Evans and Jason Lezak, is a major
component of the federal Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety
Act, which took effect December 2008.
The campaign is being spearheaded by the Consumer Product Safety
Commission in conjunction with nearly two-dozen participating
organizations, including the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals, the
National Drowning Prevention Alliance, the National Swimming Pool
Foundation and PR partner Widmeyer Communications.
“This will be effective because it is such a broad campaign,
not just a short-term effort by one or two groups,” said
Kathleen Reilly, CSPC’s public affairs specialist.
“It’s nationwide, and nearly every organization
involved in pool and spa safety will be taking part.”
Joining the Olympic athletes for the official launch were Nancy
Baker, whose daughter was the inspiration for the law, and Rep.
Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., who authored the act and
sponsored it in the House of Representatives. The announcement also
coincided with CPSC’s release of its annual reports on
children’s entrapment and submersion incidents.
Developed through research conducted by Widmeyer over the past few
months, the educational campaign will carry the tagline “Pool
Safely: Simple Steps Save Lives.” It will combine traditional
means of distributing information — print, TV, radio spots
and PSAs — with Internet-based social media such as Facebook,
Twitter and YouTube.
In fact, a Twitter account has been up and running since early May.
Located at http://twitter.com/poolsafely, the page streams
messages such as, “Approx. 70% of child drownings occur even
though 1 or both parents are nearby. Pool Safely” and
“Installing safety drain covers and equipment helps prevent
entrapments and drownings.”
At its heart, the initiative promotes adding extra safety measures
in and around pools and spas, including barriers, swim lessons for
children, knowledge of CPR, and equipment such as drain covers and
Though data is still being collected, CPSC reported no deaths from
suction entrapments in 2009; however, there were eight entrapment
incidents, with all but one resulting in injury. By comparison, the
years 2007 and 2008 saw two fatal entrapments each, but no
entrapment fatalities were reported for 2005 or 2006. All told,
CPSC counted 94 entrapments from 1999-2009, 12 of which were
Those most likely to be injured or killed in an entrapment were
under the age of 15, the report found. Of those, the largest
percentage of victims (38 percent) fell between the ages of 5 and
9. The agency also concluded that more than three-quarters of
serious injuries and deaths related to drowning and near-drownings
occurred with children under 5 years old.