NDPA Newsletter – December 2015
In 2007, six-year-old Abigail Taylor suffered a horrific injury due to improperly maintained drains in a public swimming pool. The powerful suction from a pool drain eviscerated Abbey – ripping her small intestine from her body. Despite nine months of medical care and attention, Abbey died as a result of her injuries.
Abbey’s parents, Scott and Katey Taylor, established the Abbey’s Hope Charitable Foundation to ensure that no child would ever suffer again like she did as a result of an improperly maintained pool.
To be an effective, however, it was vital the foundation stay up-to-date about new drowning prevention research, safety technologies and what is actually effective at preventing drownings and entrapments.
That’s where the National Drowning Prevention Alliance comes in. Abbey’s Hope has been a member of the NDPA for 7 years, and the foundation’s staff attends the NDPA Conference every year. The foundation’s NDPA membership keeps our programming effective, fuels our public policy efforts, and helps us make connections with other drowning prevention stakeholders who can help with our efforts.
Thanks in part to our active membership in the NDPA, Abbey’s Hope had the privilege of helping the Minnesota State Legislature craft and pass the Abigail Taylor Pool & Spa Safety Act that requires all public pools in the state to be equipped with safety devices that prevent entrapments and eviscerations. The foundation has also worked with the United States Congress to pass the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act (VGB), which does for the nation’s public pools what the Abigail Taylor Pool & Spa Safety Act does for Minnesota pools. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, there has not been a single death in a public pool or spa due to entrapment, entanglement or evisceration since VGB went into effect.
Today, several years after Abbey’s tragic death and 6 years after the passage of VGB, Abbey’s Hope continues to work to prevent the preventable. To that end, Abbey’s Hope is proud to work in partnership with the NDPA to remind parents and pool/spa owners that they too play an important role in protecting kids from drowning and entrapments.
Life Saver Pool Fence Systems
In 1988, Life Saver Pool Fence Systems published its comprehensive pool safety guide, “Swimming Pools: Summer Fun, Year-Round Danger”. It was the first time the phrase “layers of protection” was introduced to the topic of pool safety – a phrase and strategy for making pools safer that has become the central tenet for pool safety education.
Since that time, Life Saver has not only continued to update and share that seminal publication (now mostly online), but has also authored dozens of additional articles and infographics on the topic of children and pool safety.
It wasn’t until Life Saver started attending the NDPA Annual Conference, and through that conference became introduced to so many others in the drowning prevention community, that they were inspired to produce the most effective and widely used media on pool safety that Lifesaver has produced: a unique, animated video on the importance of pool safety and immediate steps that can be taken to make pools safer. It was through the NDPA that Life Saver saw not only the need for this video, but had the expertise and language to create it. “Pool Safety Info Every Parent Should Know” has been viewed over 60,000 times on YouTube, shared thousands of times on Facebook, and has surely contributed to saving lives. This is in part due to support by the NDPA and its members in spreading it far and wide.
As demonstrated by Life Saver’s media work, the NDPA has proven to be a catalyst for this country’s water safety education. It is the fuel that ignites the fires of organizations looking to make a difference. This one video is just a small example of the power of the NDPA’s ability to bring people together to create real and measurable change.
The NDPA is a long-time, top-tier partner for Pool Safely, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s largest and longest running public education campaign. NDPA has been a critically important channel for outreach to individual communities, as well as to additional Pool Safely partners, such as the American Red Cross, YMCA of the USA, and USA Swimming Foundation. The NDPA Annual Conference is one of the most important water safety events of the year. It is where Pool Safely interacts with current partners, meets new ones, and has the opportunity to provide campaign updates to the national drowning prevention community.
Through our 800+ partnerships, Pool Safely has distributed more than one million pieces of educational materials to communities across the country. Pool Safely partners and NDPA members are able to order these free materials to help teach families everywhere the simple steps they need to take to keep children safer in and around the water. The campaign’s PSA message, which CPSC co-developed with NDPA, has gathered more than one billion impressions to date. In May 2014, Pool Safely launched the Pool Safely Pledge, a call-to-action for parents and kids to take steps to stay safer around water. More than 25,000 people have signed the pledge, with many of those signatures collected at NDPA-partner events. As part of its outreach efforts, the Pool Safely campaign works to educate the population most vulnerable to drowning: children. Last summer, the campaign released the Pool Safely children’s song by Laurie Berkner and an app, The Adventures of Splish and Splash, a game designed for kids ages 6-10, available for free download on iTunes and Google Play.
The Drowning Prevention Coalition of Arizona
This coalition was established in 1989 and is one of the longest recognized water safety organizations in the country. It is a community-based organization comprised of parents, health/safety professionals, business leaders and concerned citizens. The coalition exists to provide a forum to prevent drowning and water-related incidents through the promotion of education, legislative action, awareness and enhanced product safety.
As a community-based organization, the coalition attracts members from many different areas. It is this diverse representation that provides the Coalition a great strength in representing the issues surrounding drowning prevention. The coalition brings together individuals from different cities, industries and backgrounds to work toward a common cause that significantly benefits the entire community.
In 2004, the coalition assisted in the establishment of the National Drowning Prevention Alliance – the first national group dedicated to preventing drowning incidents.
Having a national partner in the NDPA has afforded a great resource to the coalition. The coalition has not only supported the efforts of local agencies, but has recently capitalized on the strength of its history as an NDPA partner to promote its own programs. Learning from what other groups have shared at NDPA conferences, the coalition has established swim lesson and life jacket grant programs, grown canal safety efforts and developed community pool signs. The coalition has specifically partnered with the NDPA to offer Water SMART Babies to Arizona families. While there is no single step that can prevent childhood drownings, these programs are part of the reason the drowning rates have steadily decreased in Arizona.
One of the most important accomplishments of the coalition was in getting the State of Arizona to mandate statewide four-sided barriers for swimming pools in 1991. As it has matured, the coalition has played a vital role in data collection, technical assistance and awareness campaigns throughout Arizona.
The coalition is proud of its long partnership with the NDPA. It is important to share ideas, resources and best practices so that the drowning rates can continue to decrease, not only in Arizona, but throughout the country.