Faced with record high drowning numbers in Texas, the Independent Pool & Spa Service Association is campaigning for stronger water safety education.
“I want to see the pool industry move to [be] a proactive water safety advocate,” said Jeremy Smith, president of IPSSA’s Mid Cities DFW Chapter. “We’re the missing link to finding and talking to people who have pools.”
The campaign comes at a time of exceptional need in Texas, where 60 children have drowned this year, as of the end of June. Though the state only began tracking the numbers in 2005, it is believed that if this pace continues, it will surpass last year’s record of 82 child drowning deaths.
The majority of recent drowning victims have been unsupervised toddlers.
“We’re having a rough time watching little kids drown for no reason other than lack of adult supervision,” Smith said.
Throughout Texas, cities have responded with a variety of measures. Corpus Christi scheduled an impromptu conference to spread drowning awareness for the July 4th holiday weekend. The Houston area, where more than one-third of drowning incidents have occurred since 2006, held its annual April Pools Day to teach water safety.
For its part, IPSSA has partnered with the Children’s Medical Center in Dallas to sponsor events and produce educational materials. These include mock drownings, bilingual presentations, safety brochures and coloring books.
“We encourage every layer of protection you can imagine, [and] we encourage swim lessons as soon as possible,” Smith said.
IPSSA members in Texas are already scheduling school presentations and safety fairs at commercial pools for next year. And Smith, who is a former lifeguard, has even given private presentations free of charge to some of his residential customers who recently become parents.
However, water safety isn’t new to the association. In 2001, IPSSA’s San Diego Chapter helped launch the Water Watcher program, which eventually spread to Texas and led to the partnership between Smith and the Children’s Medical Center.