When talking with new customers, contractors almost always are the first to raise the topic of pool safety.
Those discussions, until recently, likely relied on the
builder’s knowledge of the latest requirements. And they
almost certainly weren’t accompanied by branded, easy-to-read
consumer-friendly information explaining how to take proper safety
provisions, or the different types of safety equipment and products
In late 2010, all that changed when the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the federal
agency tasked with administering the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act,
awarded a number of grants to support its Pool Safely
Working in concert with PR firm Widmeyer Communications, the
campaign has sought to reach consumers nationwide with a clear
message: Simple steps save lives.
“We want to make sure that all pools are functioning
properly,” says Kathleen Reilly, public affairs specialist
with the CPSC. “It’s a really big project, but the
message that we’re promoting helps [pool professionals] send
a story of safety and concern [to parents], and convey that it
doesn’t have to cost a fortune to make a pool
Following is a snapshot of the organizations most closely tied to
the pool industry in both mission and target audience, and what can
be expected of each in the coming year.
Organization: Association of Pool & Spa Professionals
Funding (thru Sept. 2011): $363,760
Target Audience: Pool Service Professionals,
Aquatics Managers, Lifeguards, Manufacturers, Distributors,
Retailers in all areas except N.Y., N.J., Conn. and Pa.
Planned Programming: APSP has been tasked with
transmitting the CPSC’s Pool Safely message to stakeholders
throughout the industry across 46 states.
The group kicked off its effort in November at the 2010 International Pool | Spa | Patio Expo, where it
supplied water-safety and entrapment-prevention materials ranging
from door hangers with tips and checklists, to point-of-purchase
display stands, to brochures for pool operators and service
technicians to leave with customers.
“We’re going to tailor our training and remind people
to convey these safety messages to homeowners,” says Carvin
DiGiovanni, senior director, technical and standards at APSP.
“The CPSC is trying to educate in addition to regulate, so
now that they’re on board there’s a heightened
awareness. And I believe the perception that the industry
isn’t concerned about safety is starting to erode
The association will continue to promote the message through
industry videos, with a dedicated Pool Safely page on its Website,
and via social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter.
Beginning early this year, APSP also will conduct a series of 10
classes geared toward service technicians and aquatics facility
managers. Each event should last about 2-3 hours, and will describe
elements of the VGB Act, as well as methods of compliance and
pinpointing potential entrapment hazards, DiGiovanni says. The
instruction will be based on the ANSI-7 Suction Entrapment
Avoidance Standard, which was developed by APSP and adopted by the
International Code Council in 2008.
These face-to-face events will be held at various locations
throughout the country, and at least a handful will take place
during conferences or symposiums — confirmed venues include
the Mid-America Pool & Spa Show in St. Charles,
Ill. (Jan. 17-21), the Orlando Pool & Spa Show in Orlando, Fla.
(Feb. 11-12), the Southwest Pool & Spa Show in Arlington, Texas
(Feb. 14-19), and the Western Pool & Spa Show in Long Beach,
Calif. (March 31-April 2).
In addition to live classes, APSP will offer training online, so
pool professionals can download and watch the presentations free of
charge. It also will include a train-the-trainer program, which
allows attendees to transmit the information to members of their
own organizations or companies.
Organization: Northeast Spa & Pool Association
Funding (thru Sept. 2011): $239,151
Target Audience: Health and Building Code
Officials, Pool Operators, Lifeguards, Pool Industry Service and
Maintenance Personnel in N.Y., N.J., Conn. and Pa.
Planned Programming: NESPA is spearheading Pool
Safely messaging efforts throughout much of the Northeast. The
association, which represents more than 800 companies across the
region, will carry education and training initiatives to many of
the same interests as APSP, in addition to two key audiences:
health and building code officials.
NESPA administrators in late 2010 were developing eight separate
templates, one for each set of code officials in its four-state
area. They also were scheduling training through the various state
departments — community affairs, public health,
However, the task is complicated because every state handles
building code approval and enforcement differently, “so
we’re trying to take all those subtleties into
account,” says Paulette Pitrak, deputy executive director at
NESPA in Hamilton, N.J.
“We’ve been reviewing their state codes with an
emphasis on suction entrapment and individual barrier
regulations,” Pitrak says. “And we’re looking at
how their code officials are handling VGB
The association hopes to collect additional data from the various
health departments by identifying the number and locations of
public pools statewide. It also will work with local parks and
recreation departments, YMCAs, Red Cross affiliates and other
organizations that may conduct or coordinate CPO classes.
Once all facilities have been accounted for, NESPA will send each
one posters, PSAs and lanyard cards that spotlight best practices,
such as ensuring drain covers are properly affixed, and that
additional barriers and measures are in place.
Beginning in late winter, the group’s education efforts
should take flight, with dozens of three-hour presentations to code
officials set to be held throughout the region. A kickoff is
planned for the Atlantic City Pool & Spa Show, from Jan.
“As far as our goals, we’re going to evaluate how
they’re doing after they’ve gone through the
program,” Pitrak adds. “But we also want code officials
to network more with each other. They tend to be very isolated, so
we want to get them talking to one another and encourage dialogue
and troubleshooting between states.”
Organization: National Drowning Prevention Alliance
Funding (thru Sept. 2011): $1,286,100
Target Audience: Consumers, First-Responders, Swim
Schools, Pool Owners, Lifeguards, Pool Managers, Maintenance
Workers, Pool Industry Stakeholders
Planned Programming: With particular focus on
pool-heavy states including Arizona, California, Florida and Texas,
the NDPA will tap into its diverse membership for maximum impact.
The drowning-prevention coalition has perhaps the broadest target
audience, ranging from the public (especially minorities and
hard-to-reach communities) to emergency personnel to the pool
For consumers, it will launch a national public relations/media
campaign highlighting layers of protection and the importance of
swim lessons; a pool-safety curriculum for nursery school-aged
children; a series of video PSAs; and a coordinated effort with the
USA Swimming Foundation’s “Make A Splash”
campaign promoting swim lessons to underserved demographics.
Pool professionals can expect to see NDPA booths at various trade
shows and community events.
Perhaps the NDPA’s most innovative initiative is a Pool &
Spa Safety Technician training program, which is modeled after the
successful National Certified Child Passenger Safety Program for
child car seat inspections. In it, firefighters and other
first-responders will undergo two-and-a-half days of training on
how to identify potential hazards in the backyard, recommend layers
of protection, promote injury-prevention and proper supervision,
Once trained, the Technician would enter a backyard (at the
homeowner’s request), administer a 10-question test to
measure a resident’s knowledge of pool safety, document the
backyard environment, explain findings, and then re-administer the
test to gauge retention. A follow-up visit would be conducted
several months later to log any changes that were undertaken and
why (or determine why not, if no recommendations were
In its pilot year, the program will be rolled out in Orange County,
Calif. (Orange County Fire Authority), Phoenix (Phoenix Fire
Department) and Broward County, Fla.(Broward County Fire Rescue).
Officials expect to begin training fire personnel in
“It’s an education program — it’s not about
selling products,” says Kristin Goffman, executive director
of the NDPA.
If it proves beneficial, Goffman would like to expand the program
to potentially include CPOs, swim instructors and service techs as
Safety Technicians.“It’s something new and different,
but it’s a model that works,” Goffman adds. “And
it’s a pilot program, so it’s still all about learning
— we’re looking for a lot of feedback.”