Memorial Day Weekend Pool Safely Press Event - Thursday, May 26, 2011, Parkway Family Aquatics Center, Chula Vista, Calif.

May 26, 2011

Mayor Cox, thank you very much for that warm introduction. As former teachers and school administrators, the Mayor and I share a common commitment to ensuring the health and well being of children in our past and current roles.

 

Mayor, we are so pleased to bring CPSC’s Pool Safely campaign to Chula Vista. Your city has been a great supporter of the campaign and has demonstrated its commitment to the safety of children in this community.

 

I am also delighted to join up with Janet Evans once again. Janet is an Olympic champion and a world class mother. One year ago, Janet and I joined forces at the International Swimming Hall of Fame in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, to officially launch the Pool Safely campaign.

 

Thank you Janet, for lending your voice once again to our effort to keep kids safe in and around the water.

 

Yosina, we greatly appreciate you joining us. We are so thankful for the work you are doing with Safe Kids to turn a near tragedy into advocacy. We look forward to hearing your story this morning.

 

Dr. Birkbeck-Garcia and Manuel, on behalf of CPSC, I want to thank you for being part of the Pool Safely campaign.

 

During the past year, our campaign has reached millions of families with our "simple steps saves lives" message. From billboards posted in Miami to free swim clinics conducted here in Chula Vista to educational games played by kids in Houston, the Pool Safely movement has swept the country.

 

Pool Safely is a call to action.

 

On television, radio, and Twitter; in Head Start programs and at community events, Pool Safely is being talked about and it is taking hold.

 

In fact, Pool Safely messages have been viewed nearly a half a billion times during the past year. Yes, I said a half a billion.

 

Now, we are all here today - just two days before the start of the summer pool season - for a simple but powerful reason: to save the lives of children in Chula Vista, California... and across the country.

 

We know that drowning is a leading - but preventable - cause of death and injury among children younger than five. And we know that drain entrapment is a hidden, horrific, and preventable hazard.

 

The statistics CPSC is announcing this morning support our call to action.

 

We need to continue to urge parents and caregivers to be vigilant with supervision and creating layers of protection, because there are still too many children who drown or nearly drown each year.

 

Since the start of this year, the Pool Safely campaign has tracked 118 media reports of drownings and near-drownings in 29 states. That is a very troubling figure.

 

We are talking about 55 drownings and 63 near-drownings in just the first five months of the year. And now we are entering into what Safe Kids USA calls, "trauma season for children," so it is vital that we work together to keep children safe during the summer months.

 

CPSC’s statistics show that each year 383 children younger than 15 drown in pools and spas. Three quarters of those fatalities involves children younger than five.

 

We are talking about hundreds of families struck by tragedy each year, when their toddler or young child drowns.

 

We need to increase supervision and increase layers of protection, so that we can decrease the number of children taken too soon from their families.

 

CPSC data also estimates that there are more than 5,000 emergency room visits each year due to submersion injuries involving children younger than 15.

 

Nearly 80 percent of these injuries involve children younger than five.

 

Drowning is not like the movies or television. It is a silent killer - it happens quickly and quietly, and can strike anyone at any time.

 

We have come to the Parkway Family Aquatics Center - an outstanding aquatics center - to respond to these tragic statistics.

 

Our Pool Safely public education campaign is all about using and sharing the simple steps that can save a child's life.

 

Some of these lifesaving steps include: knowing CPR, always watching and being within reach of children in and around the water, teaching children how to swim, installing a four foot fence around the pool, having a working pool alarm, and securing the doors that lead to the pool.

 

These are simple steps that apply to water parks, hotels, motels, outdoor community pools, as well as backyard pools.

 

This campaign is especially important for the African American and Hispanic communities. As USA Swimming and CDC have determined, there is a disproportionate risk of drowning for African American and Hispanic children.

 

According to USA Swimming, "in diverse communities, the youth drowning rate is two to three times higher than the national average. Nearly six out of 10 African American and Hispanic children are unable to swim, which is nearly twice as many as their Caucasian counterparts."

 

CPSC's Pool Safely and Minority Outreach campaigns are working to make a difference and reduce pool drownings in these communities.

 

There are so many great individuals and organizations who are working on drowning prevention in diverse communities all across the country. Many of them are here today.

 

This education campaign is the biggest in CPSC’s history and I want to thank all of you for being committed to this effort, which we need to sustain. It is now my pleasure to introduce five time Olympic medalist, motivational speaker, and Pool Safely supporter Janet Evans...

 

[Chairman Tenenbaum is Reintroduced]

 

Thank you.

 

Much of our attention this morning has been on pool drownings and rightly so. Though, as I mentioned earlier, we also are addressing the hidden hazard of pool and spa drain entrapments.

 

The hold down forces created by suction entrapments have resulted in horrific tragedies in years past. These tragedies were a driving force in the passage of the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act.

 

At CPSC, we have worked hard to implement and enforce this federal child safety law. One of the most important requirements of the law is a mandate that all public pools and spas install compliant drain covers.

 

In an effort to ensure that all pools and spas are safe this summer, I am announcing this morning that nearly one million noncompliant drain covers are being recalled nationwide.

 

This recall is being conducted because the covers do not have the proper flow rating, which could pose a possible entrapment risk to swimmers.

 

Now, I want to make it clear that this recall announcement does not mean that one million drain covers will need to be replaced or repaired.

 

The recalled covers were marked with the wrong flow rating, but pool operators and homeowners should contact the maker of their drain covers to see what action, if any, is needed to make their individual pool or spa safe.

 

Operators of kiddie pools, wading pools and in-ground spas should respond immediately to this recall, while pools with multiple main drains or gravity drainage systems do not have to replace their covers.

 

The names of the manufacturers that are conducting the recalls are: A and A Manufacturing, AquaStar Pool Products, Color Match Pool Fittings, Custom Molded Products, Hayward Pool Products, Pentair Water Pool and Spa, Rising Dragon and Waterway Plastics.

 

If you know or if your pool service company tells you that drain covers made by one of these manufacturers were installed in your pool or spa - call them right away.

 

I want to recognize and commend those pool operators and consumers who made an effort to comply with the law and make their pools safer by installing new covers.

 

You did nothing wrong.

 

The onus is on these manufacturers to provide you with free replacement covers or a free retrofit, if your pool or spa is impacted by this recall.

 

Now for those public pools and spas that need their covers replaced or fixed, I have an obligation to advise that those facilities be closed at this time. They should reopen as soon as the work is completed that addresses the recall and brings the facility into compliance with the law.

 

I know this is a very difficult message for many communities to hear so close to Memorial Day weekend, but we cannot risk a child becoming entrapped in a recalled drain cover.

 

I also want to extend my message - and this represents my position as the Chairman of the CPSC - to those public pool and spa operators who have made no attempt to come into compliance with the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act.

 

If your public facility is not compliant with the Pool and Spa Safety Act, you should not be open.

 

At CPSC, we want everyone to have a lot of fun and be safe in the water this summer. And we also want to maintain a zero death rate for drain entrapments with children. I’m pleased to report that since 2009, no child has died because of a drain entrapment incident.

 

We want to keep it that way.

 

Let me close by commending the staff at CPSC who worked tirelessly on the investigation that led to today’s recall announcement.

 

They poured through more than 17,000 pages of subpoenaed documents from testing laboratories, they conducted their own testing of drain covers, and they held a public meeting to solicit answers from those involved in this matter.

 

I commend the staff for their professionalism in bringing to light and correcting the problems found in the pool industry.

 

Adding extra safety steps around the water - such as installing the right drain cover - can make all the difference. You can never know which safety measure will save a life, until it does.

 

Thank you to the great staff here at the Aquatics Center. We very much appreciate you hosting today’s event.