Good news about pools, swimming

It seems that whenever statistics are announced in a headline, the news is generally ominous in nature. But a report published last month by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) actually proclaimed a positive trend. The national percentage of fatal drownings in pools involving young children has decreased by 17 percent since 2010.

In 2010, the CPSC started its Pool Safely public education campaign to reduce childhood drownings, submersion injuries and entrapments. According to its website, the “campaign is a call-to-action for consumers and industry to adopt proven water safety steps and join a national conversation about pool and spa safety by sharing best practices and other life-saving information.”

However, even with the improvement, CPSC Acting Chairman Ann Marie Buerkle stresses “there are still far too many children who drown each year in pools and spas across the country.”

The report also provided statistics supporting her assessment.

Between 2012 and 2014, the majority (77 percent) of reported drowning victims, younger than 15, were younger than 5.

For children younger than 15 years old, 68 percent of the reported fatal drowning victims were boys.

Between 2014 and 2016, residential locations made up 86 percent of fatal reported incidents.

In 2007, the federal Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act (P&SS Act) was signed into law, mandating new requirements for public pools and spas to prevent the tragic and hidden hazards of drain entrapments and eviscerations.

From 2012 to 2016, there were 17 victims of entrapment in16 incidents, with 82 percent of the incidents involving children younger than 15 years of age (14).

From those 16 incidents, there were two fatalities, both of which occurred in residential spas.

However, since the enactment of the P&SS Act, there have been no drain entrapment-related deaths involving children in public pools and spas.

Buerkle acknowledges the value of swimming, and offers her personal points of emphasis for developing respect for the water with her kids and grandkids. These include constant supervision, along with four-sided fencing, knowing how to perform CPR, and teaching children how to swim.

In addition to these suggestions, other recommendations include:

— Never take your eyes off of children in a pool.

— Appoint a designated “water watcher” if you’re in a group. Take turns with other adults

— Install alarms on the doors that lead to the pool area if your house forms one side of the four-sided pool barrier.

— Ensure the fence gates are self-closing and self-latching. Latches should be out of a small child’s reach.

— Install fences or construct walls that are at least four feet high around the pools with spaces no greater than four inches.

— Do not enter a pool if you see a drain cover that is loose, broken or missing. Notify the owner or operator.

— Make sure the water of any pool or spa is clear.

— Do not get in any pool if the bottom is not clearly visible.

— Keep toys away from the pool when the pool is not being used since toys can attract children into the pool are.

— Teach children how to tread water, float and get out of the pool.

— Have your children in swimming lessons by age 4. It is a life skill.

— Stay within arm’s reach if your child cannot swim.

The CPSC Pool Safely campaign also encourages everyone go online to take the Pool Safely Pledge making the commitment to do what it takes to ensure family members are safer around water this year (https://www.poolsafely.gov/pledge/).

With everyone’s efforts and education, perhaps in the coming years, the CPSC will again be able to cite statistics reporting pool accidents and fatal drownings are continuing to decline.

For additional information regarding this topic, visit www.poolsafely.gov/parents/safety-tips/ and www.abbeyshope.org/.

Jim Cowan is a health environmentalist with the Clark County Health Department. Contact hi at 859-385-4453.

The Clark County Health Department supports families through a variety of programming and services, including: family planning, immunizations, WIC, HANDS, community education events, Cooper Clayton smoking cessation, etc. For more information on our services, call 744-4482 or visit www.clarkhealthdept.org.Cowan at or jamesm.cowan@ky.gov.

About Whitney Leggett

Whitney Leggett is managing editor of The Winchester Sun and Winchester Living magazine. To contact her, email whitney.leggett@winchestersun.com or call 859-759-0049.

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