Last year, U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla) introduced legislation to help protect our children around pools. It failed by nine votes during the last few hours the House of Representatives was in session. Rep. Wasserman Schultz is now reintroducing the bill. Entitled The Pool and Spa Safety Act (HR 1721), the legislation would provide grants to states which require all swimming pools and spas to have these layers of protection:
- Installation of physical barriers (such as a fence) around a pool to prevent children’s unattended access.
- Mandates pools to be equipped with a suction outlet drain cover which prevents hair and body entanglement.
- Requires the installation of a safety vacuum release system, shutting off a pump if it detects a blockage.
- Public awareness campaign regarding the importance of active supervision of children at or near a pool.
Given the recent spate of drowning in the news, you would think this would be a no-brainer. But what’s interesting is that a large percentage of people still don’t understand how dangerous a pool can be. According to a new survey by The Home Safety Council, less than half (49%) of U.S. adults actively supervise children when they are in or near water. There are probably several reasons for this:
- Parents are having their children wear flotation devises which give a false sense of security
- The child has taken swim lessons and/ or knows how to swim so the parents feel he or she no longer needs supervision
- Parents become distracted by friends, other children, the phone or the doorbell
If we as parents don’t recognize how dangerous a pool can be, how will congress understand the urgency to pass this legislation?
The good news is that some states are addressing this problem on their own. Most recently, New York state passed a law which requires an alarm be installed on any pool constructed after December, 2006.
At Peek-a-Boo Baby Proofing, we started carrying and installing Baby Guard removable mesh pool fencing after two children drowned in a nearby town. We felt it was our responsibility as child safety experts to educate parents about the need for layers of safety when it comes to pools. (Perhaps we need to go to Washington and educate our representatives as well!)
With drowning being the second-leading cause of unintentional, injury-related death for children under the age of 5, we as parents need to start recognizing how dangerous a pool can be. Unfortunately the most recent incidents have involved children drowning in a neighbor’s pool so it is crucial that everyone have layers of safety for their pool. Let your Congressional representative know that this is a priority to you as a parent and let’s all help save some lives!