Aquatic & Pool Professional Toolkit

Aquatics Coalition

Aquatics Coalition

Advancing Aquatics!

Aquatics Coalition

The NDPA is a proud member of the Aquatics Coalition! Check out the Aquatics Coalition’s website for more information and resources!

The Aquatics Coalition is comprised of more than 20 water safety and competitive water sport organizations spanning from learn-to-swim programs, health and rehabilitation groups to competitive aquatics organizations. This diverse group joined together with one aim: to advocate for a return to purpose-driven instructional aquatics by developing tools to guide a safer return to water. The coalition is not advocating to open pools for unrestricted recreational use but rather solely for purposeful aquatics activity under the four tenets:

  1. Purposeful Aquatics: Purpose-driven, coached, aquatic activity—swim lessons, pool-based physical therapy, and competitive swimming—are essential to public safety and health. Therefore, it is vital that these activities be allowed to resume immediately with continued availability for local communities. Each of these aquatic activities can recommence in a way that minimizes the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
  2. Learn to Swim: Swim lessons are a critical resource given that drowning is the number one cause of accidental death for children under the age of four. Yet the closing of aquatic venues has abruptly halted learn-to-swim programs for months, denying children the opportunity to acquire this life-saving skill. People should be aware that swim lessons can be safely administered with proper protective equipment and protocols.
  3. Safer Facilities: According to the CDC, there is no evidence that COVID-19 can spread to people through chlorinated water. Aquatics facilities can allow purpose-driven swimming to take place by following strict safety protocols in and around the pool, maintaining proper water sanitation levels and air quality measures, performing frequent cleaning and sanitization, and conducting regular health checks of staff and participants.
  4. Community Health: Exercise done in water such as physical therapy, lap swimming, competitive swimming, water aerobics, and other aquatic instruction are essential for mental and physical health. Further, regular exercise can reduce risk factors for severe COVID-19. Facilitating a safer return to water can only elevate social and fitness well-being in our communities.
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At the 2023 National Water Safety Conference, we received the most recent update on the U.S. National Water Safety Action Plan (USNWSAP) from Steering Committee member Morag Makay, Director of Research representing Safe Kids Worldwide

Water is all around us – 7% of the territory in the United States is covered in water, and there are nearly 11 million swimming pools nationwide. Unfortunately, without evidence-based and effective strategies, much of the water surrounding us on a daily basis can cause unintentional aquatic injuries and drownings that might result in death or a severe life-changing disability.

The Steering Committee has been working closely to create this Plan, which will address the gaps in water safety research and how to implement solutions to water safety issues throughout the United States. 

Townhall Webinar conducted July 13, 2022, including progress then, a list of Blue-Ribbon Panel Members, and a Q&A session.

What is the U.S. National Water Safety Plan?

The World Health Organization recommends that all countries create a Water Safety Plan which addresses the nation’s drowning problem, so creating a Water Safety Plan for the U.S. is a big task! 

The Steering Committee that took on this challenge includes a passionate group of stakeholders and influencers in water safety, including groups like the AAP, American Red Cross, Boy Scouts of America, YMCA of the USA, and many more. 

The U.S. National Water Safety Plan is a 10-year plan from 2023-2033, which consists of a four-stage development process:

Stage 1: Establish the scope and framework for supporting development and implementation.

Stage 2: Establish multi-sectoral working groups to develop action recommendations and identify critical evidence gaps with a communication strategy to engage stakeholders.

Stage 3: Obtain stakeholder feedback and convene a high-level expert panel to finalize the Plan. 

Step 4: Launch US National Water Safety Action Plan with guidance and tools to support the implementation. 

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USNWSAP Development timeline from the 2023 NWSC

Specifically, the USNWSAP focuses on evidence-based strategies and data, along with infrastructure to support the implementation of these recommendations: 

  • Data/Public Health Surveillance
  • Life Jackets/Personal Flotation Devices and Other Flotation
  • Water Safety/Water Competency/Swim Lessons
  • Supervision/Lifeguards
  • Rescue/CPR
  • Barriers/Entrapment and Electrical Safety 

The Steering Committee developed these strategies with high regard for values like closely following evidence and evaluation, equity, collaboration, and the local context to which water safety and drowning prevention apply. 

They started with the idea of making the USNWSAP a “model-base,” asking questions like “What should a model Water Safety State, Water Safety County, Water Safety City/Community look like?” and “What national level action would support efforts at other levels and increase equity and likelihood of success across the country?”

After going through the situational analysis phase of planning, the question then changed to “How can we engage and support subnational jurisdictions in developing evidence-informed, context-specific water safety plans?” 

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Recent Progress on the USNWSAP :  

For the Steering Committee to begin forming the Plan further, they needed to develop further resources and tools. 

By doing so, they were able to:

  • Conduct 100+ expert review recommendations and stakeholder surveys.
  • Hold Blue Ribbon Panel Meetings (Dec 2022 and Feb 2023) to review 23 recommendations, looking at the national implications and long-term needs of water safety and cross-cutting issues like:
    • The balance between aspiration and practicality
    • Addressing Equity
    • Stakeholder engagement
    • Monitoring
  • Hold final reviews of recommendations and draft the initial plan document.
  • Develop guidance on situational analysis by convening relevant stakeholders (e.g., aquatics, public health, healthcare, education, government, first responders, and child safety coalitions) to collect, review and discuss:
    • Prevalence of drowning and groups at high risk for drowning
    • When, where, and the circumstances under which fatal and non-fatal drownings occur
    • Aquatic environments, including specific hazards
    • The existence/absence of prevention/response efforts + resources to support prevention

With these formations, the Steering Committee can formally begin launch planning with anticipated goals for the future. 

Anticipated Goals for 2023 & 2024:

The latest U.S. National Water Safety Action Plan update includes several anticipated goals, especially in 2023. 

Anticipated Deliverables for Spring/Summer of 2023: 

  • U.S. National Water Safety Action Plan Document
  • U.S. National Water Safety Action Plan implications for the national minimum standards, model laws, and advocacy toolkits
  • Providing resources with comprehensive guidance on doing a situational analysis to support an action plan (Step 1) 

Anticipated Deliverables for Summer/Fall of 2023: 

  • Resource providing stepwise guidance on action plan development (Step 2) 
  • Online resource providing details on each recommendation to facilitate selection and implementation
  • Research agenda addressing identified gaps (Summer 2023)
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How You Can Get Involved With the US National Water Safety Action Plan:  

While the Steering Committee has been formed to guide the development of the Plan, it still takes all of us to create and execute the precautions needed to transform water safety for now and future generations to come. 

You can get involved by: 

  • Assisting by actively promoting and communicating the work being done for the U.S. National Water Safety Action Plan.
  • Initiate, facilitate, and participate in state, county, or local action planning.
  • Lead and participate in developing and communicating national water safety implications with guidance and resources.
  • Support advocacy efforts through funding, legislation, and policy.
  • Undertake research addressing identified evidence gaps in water safety and drowning prevention.

Drowning is preventable, but prevention wouldn’t be possible without those who are passionate and willing to learn and engage in simple actions to keep loved ones safe. 

For more information about the U.S. National Water Safety Action Plan, email  info@usnwsap.org, and to learn more about how you can make a difference in drowning prevention, visit https://ndpa.org/support-ndpa/.

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For many, water is a source of joy and memory – bringing together even the unlikeliest of pairs. However, water is an element that deserves our respect and attention. 

Drowning is a tragedy that can happen to anyone. Unfortunately, it is fast, silent, and often not what you would expect, so it’s essential to learn the latest available water safety and drowning prevention information.

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Data & Statistics on Drowning

The following data and research has been compiled over the past few years from sources such as the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), WHO (World Health Organization), and the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics). Learning the latest drowning statistics is crucial to understanding how drowning can affect anyone and its impact on society.

General Drowning Statistics:

  • Drowning is the single leading cause of death for children ages 1-4 and the second leading cause of injury-related death for children up to age 14. 
  • There is an average of 4,012 unintentional drowning deaths per year.
  • Drowning remains among the top four causes of death from age 54 and up.
  • The U.S. experiences an average of 11 fatal drownings per day and an average of 22 non-fatal drownings per day.
  • More than 40% of drownings treated in the Emergency Department require hospitalization, transfer, or further care (compared with 8% of all unintentional injuries). Outcomes of morbidity include brain damage, other serious outcomes, and long-term disability.
  • Drowning costs the U.S. Economy $51.53 billion per year.
  • Drowning is fast and silent. It can happen in as little as 20-60 seconds.
  • Nearly 80% of drowning deaths are among males due to increased exposure to water, risk-taking behaviors, and alcohol use.
  • Based on data from 2020, unintentional drowning deaths between ages 20-24 have increased by 44%, and ages 25-29 have increased by 29%.

Drowning Statistics on Children:

  • 88% of child drownings occur with at least 1 adult present.
  • We lose 10 school buses worth of children to unintentional drownings per year, with the average school bus seating 80 students, resulting in an average of 854 children per year.
  • For every child that dies from drowning, another 7 to 8 receive emergency department care for non-fatal drowning. Almost 70% of drownings of young children occur during non-swim.
  • Two out of three drowning incidents that take place in the home occur in a bathtub.
  • 23% of child drownings happen during a family gathering near a pool.

Racial & Ethnic Groups Drowning Statistics

  • In swimming pools, Black children ages 10-14 years drown at rates 7.6 times higher than White children.
  • Black children and youth are more likely to drown in public pools, and white children and youth are more likely to drown in residential pools.
  • Drowning death rates for American Indian or Alaska Native people ages 29 and younger are 2 times higher than the rates for White people, with the highest disparities among those ages 25-29 (rates 3.5 times higher).
  • Drowning death rates for Black people are 1.5 times higher than the rates for White people. Disparities are highest among Black children ages 5-9 (rates 2.6 times higher) and ages 10-14 (rates 3.6 times higher).

Drowning Statistics on People With Disabilities/Medical Conditions

  • People with seizure disorders such as epilepsy are at a higher risk of fatal and non-fatal drowning than the general population. Other conditions, such as autism and heart conditions, are also associated with a higher risk of drowning.
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Water Safety & Drowning Prevention Internal Resources

We offer a wide range of resources at the NDPA to assist you in learning about the latest water safety and drowning prevention efforts across various industries, including residential pools and spas, commercial aquatics, pediatrics, and resources for parents and caregivers.

Some of our best internal resources for water safety and drowning prevention include:

NDPA’s ‘Learn the 5 Layers of Protection’ Animated Video

Water Safety and Drowning Prevention Industry Updates

With recent research findings, water safety legislation, and awareness campaigns currently circulating in the water safety industry, there are many areas of expertise to be mindful of. Only together can we reduce the incidence of drowning and aquatic injuries.  

The following resources are key items to utilize when keeping up to date with the latest water safety and drowning prevention industry: 

Drowning is Preventable!

The National Drowning Prevention Alliance is dedicated to preventing the tragedies of unintentional childhood drownings and aquatic injuries through research, education, and advocacy initiatives. 

Drowning is a complex problem, but it is preventable.

Prevention starts with awareness, education, and implementation of the latest water safety and drowning prevention efforts, statistics, and resources. 

Water safety and drowning prevention is a lifelong endeavor, but it can save a life.

Join the alliance today and help us make a difference in ending drowning and aquatic-related injuries!

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During the cold winter months, you may not think about going in the water much, but that doesn’t mean your water safety efforts and education should stop.

Drowning is a public health crisis and an economic problem that will not change unless more water safety policies and legislation are put into effect throughout our communities. Through the 2020 CDC WISWARS Cost of Injury Module, drownings (both fatal and nonfatal) cost the U.S. Economy $53.53 billion per year.

We are Not Powerless When Addressing the Tragedies of Drowning

Advocating for more water safety legislation and drowning prevention efforts in our local and state governments is essential to help change the number of drownings across the U.S.

Drowning has a startling ripple effect, which can have a lifetime effect on the victim’s family, friends, and community members. However, many people may not publicly advocate for water safety legislation because they might not know where to start.

To make things easier for those who want to advocate for water safety action and those interested in improving how their community prevents drowning incidents and other aquatic injuries, here are some tips that can be used as a guide.

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1. Look at Your Local and State Level Water Safety Legislation Laws
Before approaching community members with water safety legislation, educating yourself is critical.  Become familiar with the water safety issues around you and learn more about water safety education by implementing the 5 Layers of Protection.

Educating yourself and those around you about water safety is a lifelong endeavor, so stay up to date with the latest research and evidence-based drowning prevention strategies through your state’s water safety legislation. 

All states have different laws, codes, and regulations around public health and information on pools, hot tubs, and splash pads, so use the following resources below to read about local and state-level water safety legislation initiatives that are currently in effect: 

2. How to Advocate for Water Safety Legislation to Policy Makers

By learning about the latest laws, codes, and regulations, you will be able to become more active in your community to make a difference. Working your way up is a great way to start advocating for water safety legislation efforts.

Attending local government meetings to discuss community issues like fencing ordinances to provide barriers for homes with pools and spas or recommending pool and spa covers to homeowners with water features can help reduce aquatic-related incidents. Always advocate for all five layers of protection, as one water safety strategy may not be enough to save a life.

When you create lasting relationships with your local officials by regularly participating in community meetings, you provide the necessary information to make positive changes for your community, city, and even state.

Without the support of engaged and dedicated water safety advocates, reducing the number of drownings wouldn’t be possible. Without those to share and advocate for water safety, U.S. Rep Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-20) wouldn’t have been able to become a Water Safety Champion and rally to support the reauthorization of the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act (VGB Act). 

Other ways you can help advocate for water safety include: 

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U. S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-20) Receiving Lighthouse Award and Becoming a Water Safety Champion

3. Empower Your Community to Help Prevent Drowning with Water Safety Legislation

When it comes to the health and safety of children, empowering your community to rally against drowning and aquatic injuries is as simple as ‘gimmie 5’:

  1. Installing barriers & alarms to help prevent children and unauthorized adults from accessing water unsupervised.
  2. Close, constant, and capable supervision anytime children are in or around water.
  3. Learning water competency and basic swim skills.
  4. Wear life jackets appropriately, especially around open water.
  5. Learning emergency preparation skills like CPR and fast action to call 911.

Each of these 5 Layers must work together, so teaching members of your community significantly impacts those around you.
Make access to water safety education simple and easy to access. Follow the NDPA’s social feeds for social media posts to share or access your Resource Kit after becoming a Water Safety Champion. Always be open to sharing resources to spread drowning prevention awareness to your friends, family, and community.

It Takes a Village to Advocate for Water Safety Legislation

With water safety legislation, we can make a difference in drowning prevention, but it takes more than one person to create change for the greater good. Drowning prevention is more than educating parents about water safety.

By becoming more aware of the dangers water can present to our communities and utilizing the best water safety strategies, we can make a difference in preventing future drowning and aquatic injuries. 


To join the fight for more water safety legislation for drowning prevention in our communities, visit here to help support the NDPA.

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