Pool safety education will get a nationwide boost next spring, thanks to the combined efforts of two child safety groups.
The boards of Safe Kids Worldwide and the Home Safety Council have begun officially merging. Next spring, the new combined organization will launch a campaign to educate consumers across the country about the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act, and related pool safety issues.
“In the coming year, you’re going to see a lot from us regarding the VGB Act,” said Mitch Stoeller, president/CEO of Safe Kids Worldwide. “We’re gearing up for a major [pool safety] education program this spring.”
The two groups have applied to the Consumer Product Safety Commission for grants to support the new organization’s campaign. More than $1.2 million has been awarded so far, according to reports by CPSC.
“We’re joining together on a much stronger push to educate homeowners and parents, and prevent childhood drownings and near-drownings,” Stoeller said.
“With our combined resources, we have the ability to get this message out to almost every city in the nation.”
In the past, the efforts of both groups have focused on a variety of industries, from home construction to automobile safety. Certain members of Safe Kids Worldwide, however, have been particularly outspoken about their advocacy for the VGB Act. Foremost among these was Alan Korn, the organization’s former executive director and general counsel, who voluntarily stepped down from that post in April 2010.
The Home Safety Council, meanwhile, has spent years developing and publicizing a comprehensive set of residential safety standards, including a detailed list of safe practices for in and around swimming pools.
“One thing that we’ve lacked at Safe Kids was a robust safety program, and the folks at the Home Safety Council will bring that expertise to us,” Stoeller said. “What we bring are our coalitions.”
Those grass-roots safety advocacy groups form more than 600 chapters throughout the United States.
They’re composed of thousands of volunteers from all walks of life who work to raise awareness about child safety.
The coalitions also distribute safety devices such as smoke alarms, bike helmets and child car seats for free.
In July 2010, Safe Kids worked with CPSC to create nationwide public service announcements addressing pool safety. The following month, the Home Safety Council partnered with CPSC to hold a Webinar for fire and emergency professionals, in which they were taught a variety of techniques for preventing child drownings.
Looking forward, the groups hope the Safe Kids coalitions will enable them to reach an unprecedented number of consumers with practical information about how to stay safe — and keep children safe — around water.
“I think merging will strengthen their ability to deliver their safety messages and education programs, said Kathleen Reilly, a public affairs specialist at the Consumer Product Safety Commission. “This seems like a win-win, for both the organizations and the public.”