As temperatures heat up and schools across Northern Virginia let out for summer, children will be heading to area swimming pools, lakes, rivers and the beach. Relaxing by the water is a fun activity for children of all ages, but poses great risks for younger kids. Drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death among children ages 1-14. Each year more than 300 children up to age five drown in swimming pools and spas each year.
Many of the 3,200 water-related hospital visits by children each year can be prevented by following basic pool safety tips. To help kick off the summer season it’s important to bring awareness to the risks associated with pools and bodies of water. I joined Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) Chairman Inez Tenenbaum last week at Upton Hill Park in Arlington to promote the CPSC “Pool Safely” effort. We were joined by more than two dozen swimmers who reviewed safe water practices and then took a swimming lesson.
The campaign “Pool Safely: Simple Steps Save Lives” educates children across the country on pool safety and swimming as part of the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act (P&SS Act). Passed in 2007, the bill was named for seven-year old Virginia Graeme Baker from Northern Virginia who drowned in a tragic hot tub accident. The legislation was designed to prevent child drowning and mandated new safety requirements for public pools and spas.
Headed by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, the campaign promotes the message that “adding extra safety steps around the water can make all the difference. You can never know which safety step will save a life – until it does.”
As part of the “Pool Safely” campaign, the CPSC recommends a host of water safety steps, including:
• Stay close and watch your children near the pool and tell your kids to always swim with a friend;
• Keep a phone nearby at all times in case of an emergency;
• Avoid entrapment underwater by avoiding pool and spa drains and pipes;
• Never leave children unattended;
• Teach your kids to swim;
• Learn and practice CPR and basic first aid;
• Maintain pool equipment and covers in good working order; and
• Keep life-saving devices such as life rings available.
Swimming is fun and healthy. Before you head out to the pool, lake or ocean this summer, consider adopting the basic pool safety tips listed above. You can learn more about the CPSC’s “Pool Safely” campaign at www.poolsafely.gov.
Rep. James Moran (D) is Virginia’s 8th Congressional District Representative in the U.S. House of Representatives.