NDPA Staff

  • World’s Largest Swimming Lesson Event set for June 22, 2017

World’s Largest Swimming Lesson Event set for June 22, 2017

World’s Largest Swimming Lesson Event set for June 22, 2017

The nation’s top water safety and training organizations are joining forces to present The World’s Largest Swimming Lesson™ (WLSL) June 22, 2017, to build awareness about the vital importance of teaching children to swim to help prevent drowning. On June 22nd, waterparks, pools and other aquatic facilities around the globe will host local WLSL lessons to make noise that Swimming Lessons Save Lives. You pick your event start time anytime on June 22, 2017.

Swimming is a life-saving skill for children and a vital tool to prevent drowning, the second leading cause of unintended, injury-related death for children ages 1-14. The World’s Largest Swimming Lesson™ was created to serve as a platform to help local community aquatic facilities and the many different national, regional and state wide water safety and drowning prevention organizations work together to tell this important story on a local and national level.

The National Drowning Prevention Alliance supports Team WLSL™ in our mission and encourages members and aquatic facilities to join the effort by registering as an official WLSL Host Location or volunteering for the 2017 event.  More information and registration is available at www.wlsl.org.


About The World’s Largest Swimming Lesson™

The World’s Largest Swimming Lesson™ was created as a platform to help aquatic facilities and the many different regional, national and international water safety organizations work together to communicate the fundamental importance of teaching children to swim. Visit www.wlsl.org to learn more.

2013 Recreational Boating Fatalities – Lowest on Record

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Coast Guard released its 2013 Recreational Boating Statistics Wednesday, revealing that boating fatalities that year totaled 560 — the lowest number of boating fatalities on record.

From 2012 to 2013, deaths in boating-related accidents decreased 14 percent, from 651 to 560, and injuries decreased from 3,000 to 2,620, a 12.7 percent reduction. The total reported recreational boating accidents decreased from 4,515 to 4,062, a 10 percent decrease.

The fatality rate for 2013 of 4.7 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational vessels reflected a 13 percent decrease from the previous year’s rate of 5.4 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational vessels. Property damage totaled approximately $39 million.

“We are pleased that there have been fewer accidents on waterways in recent years and thank our partners for their work,” said Capt. Jon Burton, director of inspections and compliance at U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters. “Together we will continue to stress the importance of life jacket use, boating education courses and sober boating.”

The report states alcohol use was the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents; it was listed as the leading factor in 17 percent of deaths. Operator inattention, improper lookout, operator inexperience, excessive speed and machinery failure ranked as the top five primary contributing factors in accidents.

Where the cause of death was known, 77 percent of fatal boating accident victims drowned; of those drowning victims, 84 percent were not wearing a life jacket. Where boating instruction was known, 20 percent of deaths occurred on vessels where the operator had received boating safety instruction. The most common types of vessels involved in reported accidents were open motorboats, personal watercraft and cabin motorboats.

The Coast Guard reminds all boaters to boat responsibly while on the water: wear a life jacket, take a boating [...]

Response to Dr. Pollock’s Article – by Gareth Hedges

Recently, several people have contacted me asking for my take on Dr. Pollock’s article, Loss of Consciousness in Breath-Holding Swimmers. Several of these readers read the article as advocating the position that prolonged underwater breath holding activities are safe, provided that they are not preceded by excessive hyperventilation. At The Redwoods Group, we have long advocated for a clear, posted rule prohibiting prolonged underwater breath holding. We stand by that guidance and encourage the research into this issue to continue so that we can develop a robust combination of awareness, education, and appropriate rules and guidelines to keep all swimmers safe.
Dr. Pollock’s article presents a well researched, well written, and valid position—but not a consensus one. There is room for disagreement and respectful skepticism to the conclusions that he draws in the article.
Specifically, I question the conclusion that “blackouts occurring in most swimming pool cases, particularly those in shallow pools, are almost undoubtedly driven by excessive hyperventilation alone…” and that “a normal person cannot voluntarily breath-hold long enough to lose consciousness without hyperventilation” in so far as those statements are not consistent with incidents we have investigated.
Since 2006, Redwoods has investigated over 200 unconscious submersions in lifeguarded facilities. In 16 of these events, breath holding was the most immediate factor that led to unconsciousness—what is commonly referred to as “Shallow Water Blackout.” 2 of these events resulted in fatalities.
In only 5 of the 16 events did our investigations reveal that excessive hyperventilation took place prior to the breath holding activity. In several additional cases we suspect that excessive hyperventilation took place, either intentionally or unintentionally on the part of the victim. Hyperventilation is certainly a high risk factor for Shallow Water Blackout. But we have also investigated cases with no reported hyperventilation, and cases in which the victim and witnesses could clearly state that there was [...]

Loss of Consciousness in Breath-Holding Swimmers

A Special Guest Article By Neal W. Pollock, Ph.D.
The risk of fatal loss of consciousness in fit and frequently highly competent swimmers was well described by Albert Craig in 1961.1,2 Blackout in swimming pools is not a new problem, but it is one that requires eternal vigilance. More importantly, terminology has recently become confusing and misleading. We can clear up some of the confusion; the need for vigilance will remain.

Metabolic gases (oxygen [O2] and carbon dioxide [CO2]) are fundamental components of our physiological processes. We consume O2 and produce CO2. While CO2 is commonly thought of as a waste product, it is critical in maintaining the acid-base balance in our tissues. For this reason, we maintain CO2 in the body at concentrations 140-160 times greater than the concentration in air.

The respiratory cycle regulates the levels of O2 and CO2 in our bodies by focusing on CO2. Expiration (breathing out) eliminates CO2 and inspiration (breathing in) restores O2. It is the rise of CO2 in the blood that stimulates breathing. When a breath-hold swimmer takes in a full breath of air and begins voluntary breath-hold, the urge to break the breath-hold is almost exclusively driven by rising CO2 levels. A normal healthy individual can hold his or her breath as long as possible with no significant risk. The point at which the urge to breathe is absolutely undeniable is reached far before the O2 level in the blood falls low enough to threaten consciousness. This is the exquisite nature of respiratory control.

What many swimmers who become interested in breath-hold quickly realize is that hyperventilation (ventilation of the lungs in excess of metabolic need) can dramatically increase breath-hold time. The effect works whether the hyperventilation is [...]

¿La nueva NDPA.ORG en español? ¡Sí!

(Read this post in English)

Cuando los miembros de la NDPA hablan sobre el problema del ahogamiento, lugares como Texas, Arizona, Nuevo México, California y Florida, a menudo, forman parte de la conversación. Su geografía y la cantidad de piscinas en los patios, aumentan las estadísticas de riesgo de ahogamiento en estas zonas del país. Sin embargo, estos lugares tienen algo más en común: el idioma español.

El español es el segundo idioma más común en los Estados Unidos, con más de 38 millones de personas que lo hablan como lengua principal en sus hogares. Muchos de ellos establecen sus hogares en Texas, Arizona, Nuevo México, California y Florida. Las conversaciones sobre el ahogamiento y la prevención de las lesiones acuáticas, claramente deben tener lugar también en español.

Esto no quiere decir que el idioma sea el problema. Por supuesto, no lo es. De hecho, los datos de la CDC sobre el ahogamiento muestran tasas ligeramente más bajas entre los hispanos en los Estados Unidos. Y el español es común en todo los EE.UU., no sólo en el sur y suroeste. Dos terceras partes de nuestras sucursales se encuentran en Estados con poblaciones significativas de habla hispana. Tenemos miembros y socios en Puerto Rico y sistemáticamente recibimos visitantes a nuestro sitio web de Centro y Sur América, en busca de la información que nosotros proporcionamos.

La cuestión es que la NDPA no puede ser un recurso nacional de información sobre el ahogamiento y la prevención de lesiones acuáticas si no proporcionamos esa información en español. Así que lo estamos empezado a hacer hoy.

VLinc Corporation, la empresa asociada con NDPA que nos proveyó el diseño y el alojamiento de esta web, también está financiando la creación de una versión [...]

The new NDPA.ORF in Spanish? Yes!

( Leer esto en español )

When members of the NDPA talk about the drowning problem, places like Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, California, and Florida are often part of the conversation.  Geography and the prevalence of backyard pools increase the drowning risk statistics in these parts of the country.  But these places have something else in common: Spanish.

Spanish is the second most common language in the United States with over 38 million people speaking it as a primary language in the home. Many of them make their homes in Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, California, and Florida. These conversations about drowning and aquatic injury prevention clearly need to be happening in Spanish too.

This isn’t to say that the language is the problem.  Of course, it isn’t. In fact, the CDCs data on drowning shows slightly lower rates for Hispanics in the United States.  And Spanish is common all over the U.S. – not just in the south and southwest. Two-thirds of our chapters are in States with significant Spanish speaking populations. We have members and partners in Puerto Rico, and we routinely get website visitors from Central and South America, looking to us for information.

The point is that the NDPA can’t be a national resource for information on drowning and aquatic injury prevention if we don’t provide that information in Spanish. So we are starting today.

VLinc Corporation, the NDPA partner company that provided the design and hosting of this website, is funding the creation of a Spanish version of NDPA.ORG as well.  Look for the official launch of the site on May 15st.  Until then – here are the NDPA water safety tips in the second most common language in the world. (English is 3rd)

Cars Sink More Than You Think

Every year in the U.S., somewhere between 1,200 to 1,500 vehicles go off the road and into a body of water. These incidents account for 400-600 drowning deaths.  That’s why, when the Drowning Prevention Coalition of Palm Beach County  discovering that the third leading cause of drowning in their county was motor vehicle crashes into canals, they really got to work.

Last year they put out an excellent brochure on how to escape a sinking vehicle.  They’ve followed up this year with their Crash, Splash, and Escape Coloring and Activity Book.  Geared for kids, this resource will clearly help everyone in the car understand what they should do in the event of a sinking vehicle emergency.

Download the coloring book for your kids (or just for you).  It is written in English, Spanish, and Haitian Creole as well!


For a comprehensive look at vehicle submersion and self-rescue, view the article and videoclip, “Escape and Rescue from Submerged Vehicles” at the Lifesaving Resources’ website of NDPA Board Member Gerry Dworkin.


National Water Safety Awareness Month Participation Webinar

Join USA Swimming for a free a webinar outlining ideas on how your program can participate in National Water Safety Awareness Month! We will go into detail on how you can participate in the events below to promote swimming and water safety to your communities!

May 5th – Otter Spotter Day 
May 15th – International Water Safety Day
May 31st – Community Water Safety Events (in conjunction with the USA Swimming Foundation’s Make a Splash Tour, presented by Phillips 66)


For a more detailed view of the above events and some activation ideas on how your program can get involved click here PDF document .



2014 Conference Photos

Email your images to admin@ndpa.org and we’ll put them in the gallery.


20 Water Safety Links and Ideas- Spring 2014

NDPA Board Member – and Pool Safety Mom – Mary Ann Downing put together a helpful list of water safety links and ideas for this spring.  

Promote drowning prevention education and awareness in your own community, network or through your organization, by joining us and supporting the NDPA.

Know that Drowning IS Preventable (and Predictable). Drowning is a leading cause of “Injury Death”. www.cdc.gov  Get the stats for your state and local community. Look at ages 1-4!
Dare to ask “Do you know… All Water has RISK?  Where is YOUR RISK?”

Use the Safer3 Message, the risk of drowning is in 3 main areas – Safer Water, Safer People, Safer Response www.safer3.org Distribute brochures, activity sheets, and water watcher tags.
Promote Safer Water- learn more about “Layers of Protection http://ndpa.org/resources/safety-  tips/layers-of-protection/  Tip: Keep kids securely away from water if it’s not time to swim, use alarms, fencing, safety covers, maintain water clarity, check drain covers, prevent entrapment, etc.
Promote Safer People with Safer3 Early Education  http://ndpa.org/resources/courses/safer3/,  http://ndpa.org/resources/safety-tips/water-smart-baby-lessons/ Actively supervise, (hands on toddlers, within arms reach of children, eyes on all) when near the water. Learn to swim, wear a life jacket, learn water safety rules, use the Water Watcher tag with an extra set of eyes on the water
Promote Safer Response- learn basic water rescues, know CPR with Rescue Breathing, teach reach/throw.  http://www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/water-safety
I Remember those lost to drowning and water incidents.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xm3glUr9cNg
Celebrate National Drowning Prevention and Water Safety Month- Proclamations for May http://www.nationalwatersafetymonth.org/
Celebrate International Water Safety Day-May 15th   http://internationalwatersafetyday.org/
Attend an event and promote The World’s Largest Swim Lesson- June 20th, 2014, http://www.wlsl.org/
Promote the “Seal of Safer Pools” program. http://ndpa.org/ndpa-seal-of-safer-pool-practices/
For home owners promote the Home Pool Essentials on [...]