Tag Archive for: drowning prevention

thursday-pools

NDPA recently received an incredible donation from Thursday Pools, an innovating fiberglass company from Fortville, IN, dedicated to bringing cutting-edge innovations to the pool world. We are so grateful that Thursday Pools has dedicated hours of hard work and advocacy to help NDPA’s mission to prevent the tragedies of drowning, resulting in a donation of $10,000!

In total, Thursday Pools and its dealers have donated $15,700!

Thursday Pools is one of the largest builders of fiberglass pools in the country, and we are beyond excited that they made such a commitment to aid our mission to prevent childhood drowning and aquatic injuries. 

Thursday-Pools-story

About Thursday Pools

Forget about Friday! With Thursday Pools, a memorable weekend begins early,” is the tagline for this remarkable company. Their goal is to facilitate time with family and friends while ensuring everyone’s safety.

Thursday Pools designs and manufactures hand-crafted fiberglass pool shells with the highest standards and craftsmanship. With their commitment to high standards of fiberglass pools, we are honored that they chose to support our mission to prevent tragedy around water.

Life around water should delight families, and Thursday Pools goes above and beyond to captivate their customers while keeping them safe.

Thursday Pools makes artfully crafted, durable fiberglass pools and innovative products. They pride themselves on empowering their customers to make a lifetime of remarkable moments with family and friends. At NDPA strive for the same with our effort to keep families safe by implementing water safety using the 5 layers of protection.

Thursday Pools is reshaping the pool industry with classic designs, cascading multi-level pools, and their one-of-a-kind, walk-in beach entry feature. Some of the pools they manufacture feature water safety features.

thursday-pools-beach-feature

Several pool options have multiple stairs and a safety ledge on each side. With more help and support from companies like Thursday Pools, NDPA can do more for drowning prevention and water safety in the United States. 

Thank You For Your Support, Thursday Pools!

Executive Director Dr. Adam Katchmarchi states, “This is simply incredible, and I’m beyond words. To see a company and its dealers support the importance of drowning prevention warms my heart.” 

Drowning is the single leading cause of death for children 1-4. 

With Thursday Pools’ donation, we are one step closer to changing the numbers and providing more education to pool owners.

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Our Water Safety Champions are the people that go above and beyond in their communities to focus on water safety and drowning prevention, which is why it’s so important that we recognize and celebrate those that champion water safety every day!

We are thrilled to celebrate Bill Ramos as our Water Safety Champion of the Month this March!

About William (Bill) Ramos

Bill Ramos is an incredible aquatic and water safety community member as a researcher, leader, and service provider. Bill is an associate professor at Indiana University School of Public Health-Bloomington and Director of the Indiana University Aquatics Institute

Internationally respected in aquatics with an excellent aquatic, water safety, and drowning prevention research resume, Bill is the chair of the aquatic sub-council of the Red Cross Scientific Advisory Council. He has also been a vital member of the U.S. National Water Safety Action Plan.

Growing Up On Lake Michigan

Bill grew up in Gary, Indiana, and still loves his hometown working with city leadership on aquatic risk management.

Gary, IN, is located on the southern tip of Lake Michigan and is home to several beaches, local parks, and, most famously, The Jackson Five!

Bill grew up being on the water and gained a love for all things aquatic. As a teen, he joined his local swim team and later became a lifeguard on Lake Michigan. 

Being a lifeguard during his summers, he was part of several rescues. But, sadly, even with the many rescues in his repertoire, he witnessed firsthand the tragic results of a drowning accident. 

At that moment, it became clear to Bill that drowning was preventable. He knew there were ways to educate and advocate for the public on this problem. 

Because of Bill’s love of aquatics, he obtained degrees in Parks & Recreation Administration and then a Ph.D. in Leisure Behavior. He worked in the areas of aquatic management and swim coaching until later becoming a professor at Indiana University.

Throughout his career, he shares his love of water and actively advocates for people to engage with the water. He feels that being in and around water is fun and should be enjoyed by everyone. 

Bill emphasizes that drowning is a preventable tragedy and that if we work together, we can empower people everywhere to engage with water safely. 

The Joys of Water

Bill works locally, nationally, and internationally to help everyone have the knowledge and skills to engage in water activities safely.

Water can be an enjoyable outlet, even with therapeutic benefits. Yet, some people still don’t have access to water or are afraid to engage in aquatic-based activities due to the lack of opportunity to learn to swim in their communities.


Bill is currently working with the Miller Beach Water Safety Group to provide drowning prevention education, life jacket loners, and water safety stations throughout Miller Beach, Indiana.

Thank You For Making A Difference!

Without Water Safety Champions like Bill Ramos, Robin Taylor, and David Albornoz, we couldn’t change the numbers and continue educating about the best water safety practices and strategies. 

The NDPA is honored to present this accolade for Bill’s hard work and passion for his community.

Thank you for being a Water Safety Champion, Bill Ramos!

If you are making a difference in water safety and drowning prevention or know someone who has, we want to hear your story. 

Please take a moment to share the story on our website for a chance to be nationally recognized as a Water Safety Champion.

national-water-safety-action-plan-ndpa

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)
national-water-safety-action-plan-swimmers

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/.

10 open water safety tips

Lakes, beaches, and rivers are popular destinations for families during spring break and the summer season. It’s the best way to have some fun family time and remain cool as soon as temperatures rise. Consider the open-water safety tips below if you decide to go this route on your next vacation.

Most children in the U.S. drown in open water, which includes natural bodies of water such as lakes, rivers, and oceans, as well as man-made bodies of water like canals, reservoirs, and retention ponds. In 2016, open-water drownings made up 43 percent of fatal childhood drownings.*

Beaches are a favorite destination during the summer months

The first thing needed to prevent drowning incidents when in open water is learning how to swim, which has proven to be a lifesaving skill that can reduce the chances of drowning by 88%. Following the open water safety tips below will also ensure you have the most amount of fun by reducing the risks and hazards that come with open water.

1. Swim in a Designated Swimming Area

Most state parks, beaches, and lakefront areas have designated times when swimming is allowed and use flags to indicate borders in which people can swim. Never swim outside those defined areas. Also, preferably swim under the supervision of a qualified lifeguard.

2. When in Doubt, Get Out

Don’t hesitate to get out of the water if something doesn’t feel right. Whether it’s that the current is getting rough, rain has started to fall, or your body is just not responding like you would like it to due to fatigue or muscle cramps, then just leave and return to the water another day. It’s always a good thing to trust your instincts.

3. Know the Weather and Water Conditions

Check the water temperature and weather conditions before hitting the water. If the water temperature is low, your best option would be to swim in a wetsuit and don’t stay too long in the water. Bear in mind it’s not safe to swim in the rain, particularly if there is thunder and lightning. If the weather changes, don’t hesitate to swim back to shore.

Black family at the beach

4. Never Swim Alone

When you head out into the open water, go with a “swim buddy,” someone who’s looking out for you and who you’re looking out for in turn. Remember, the lifeguard isn’t your “swim buddy”; they have lots of people to track when on duty and cannot be concerned with a particular person’s safety. Besides, you’ll probably have more fun swimming with a friend.

5. Choose the Right Equipment

It’s very important always to choose the right equipment for your open water activity: wetsuits if the water is cold, goggles if swimming, and so on. Please note that if water temperatures are over 75-80 degrees, a wetsuit might not be a good idea. Using one for extended periods could cause heat exhaustion.

6. Understand Currents

Uncontrollables are all part of experiencing the ocean and open bodies of water. Rip tides, other currents, and waves can all sweep you away from your swimming route. By choosing a static “beacon” on your boat or at the shore you’ll be able to determine if you are being swept away or not. If you do get caught in a riptide, don’t panic. Try to remain calm and swim parallel to shore to get out of it. If you try to swim against the current, you might get exhausted and really panic even more.

7. No Alcohol

Alcohol affects your perception of danger, making you more likely to take unnecessary risks. Alcohol also impairs your balance and coordination – all essential for swimming and boating and avoiding hazards in the water. So don’t drink while in the water.

Kid with life vest on canoe

8. Wear a USCG-Approved Life Vest


Young children, weak swimmers, and everybody should wear life jackets whenever they are in, on, or around the water, even at a pool or a waterpark. It should be put on at the dock, deck, or shore and not removed until you return to dry land.

9. Have A Plan For Emergencies


Always have a plan to handle and face emergencies whenever you go out to the water with a swim buddy or alone. Tell someone else where you are going. Having someone watching from the shore, ready to take action should you need help, is wise. Plan for every possible incident and eliminate as much uncertainty as possible.

10. Swim Parallel to the Shore


If ever caught in a rip current, don’t let fear cloud your judgment. You could be swept away from shore very quickly. The best way to escape a rip current is by swimming parallel to the shore instead of towards it since most rip currents are an average of 100 feet wide. Try to relax and breathe, keeping your head above water, and don’t wear yourself out by trying to get out of the rip by swimming against the force of the current.

*Source: Hidden Hazards: An Exploration of Open Water Drowning and Risks for Children. Safe Kids Worldwide. May 2018.

Water safety learning opportunities are essential for children of all ages. Learning the importance of water safety through stories reinforces the message in a fun, entertaining, and educational way. Water safety stories provide an engaging way for children to gain important knowledge about how to stay safe in and around water while also helping to instill these crucial messages into their minds.

Water safety stories for kids are important for several reasons:

  • Preventing Accidents: Stories can help kids understand the dangers of water activities and how to avoid accidents.
  • Teaching Safety Rules: By reading stories that teach water safety rules, children can learn how to stay safe while swimming, boating, or playing in or near water.
  • Raising Awareness: Stories can raise awareness about the importance of water safety, the risks associated with water activities, and the need to implement the five layers of protection.
  • Developing Critical Thinking: Stories can help children develop critical thinking skills as they learn to identify potential hazards and make informed decisions about their own safety.
  • Encouraging Discussion: Water safety stories can spark conversations between children and their parents or caregivers about water safety, leading to better understanding and communication on the subject.

Overall, water safety stories for kids can help prevent accidents and encourage safe behavior around water, which is essential for their well-being.

There are many great water safety stories for kids that are both educational and entertaining. Here are a few examples:

Josh The Baby Otter

Water Safety Stories - Josh The Baby Otter

“Josh the Baby Otter” was created to help children comprehend and remember this important message: TO STAY AWAY FROM WATER UNLESS ACCOMPANIED BY AN ADULT. Its goal is to create a water safety behavior for all children that will be passed on from generation to generation.

Stewie The Duck Learns To Swim

Water Safety Stories - Stewie The Duck

Stewie the Duck Learns to Swim is an important and fun child’s first guide to water safety. Written for children ages two through six, the book conveys the message of how to be safe near the water through the story of Stewie. This duck wants to swim with the “big ducks,” but his older sisters prevent him from entering the water until he learns the appropriate water safety rules.

The Polar Bear Who Couldn’t, Wouldn’t Swim

Water Safety Stories - The Polar Bear Who Couldn't, Wouldn't Swim

The Polar Bear Who Couldn’t, Wouldn’t Swim follows the journey of a young polar bear named Zeke who is afraid of the water and refuses to swim. He leaves his home in search of other animals who do not swim and finds that he can enjoy the water if he follows the ABCs and Ds of water safety while learning a valuable lesson about facing his fears with a positive attitude.

Barkley’s Great Escape

Water Safety Stories - Barkley's Great Escape

Barkley’s Great Escape, follows a yellow Labrador retriever named Barkley, who runs into trouble when he enters a neighbor’s pool alone. The story is designed to spark discussion with children about water safety and the importance of following rules.

Jay’s Swimming Journey: How one little swimmer learned to pay attention to what’s important!

Water Safety Stories - Jay's Swimming Journey

Jay’s Swimming Journey is the tale of a young boy who listened to his coach, focused on himself, had fun swimming and showed improvement. Aimed at young swimmers but with a message pertinent to athletes of all ages and sports, Jay’s Swimming Journey demonstrates the benefit of paying attention to yourself and the details and making the most of every day in practice.

These are just a few examples of the many great water safety stories for kids. When choosing a book, look for age-appropriate content and engaging illustrations to keep your child interested.

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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!

water-safety-champion-brogantien-aquatic-center-robin-taylor

The aquatics industry has impacted so many lives, and for the past 21 years at the Brigantine Aquatic Center, Robin Taylor has advocated water safety for hundreds of children in the Atlantic City Area.  

We are thrilled to celebrate Robin Taylor as our Water Safety Champion of the Month this February!

Robin’s Career Progression in the Aquatics Industry

Robin’s Career in aquatics started when she became a parent to her daughter in 1976. Robin knew of the statistics around drowning when her daughter was still an infant.

 “I didn’t want her to be a statistic. I knew there was something that could prevent her from becoming one of the numbers, and I started her in swimming lessons when she was a baby.” 

After a while, swimming classes for her daughter became costly, which opened her up to volunteer for what is now the Ocean County YMCA, where she eventually became the head instructor for Red Cross CPR & First Aid and the first to complete a new state paramedic program at the Community Hospital of Toms River.

Robin states, “When you start teaching one person, you realize how much difference you can make and all the lives you touch with something as simple as teaching a child how to float.”

After many years of success, Robin took a temporary leave from the aquatics industry but continued to contribute to her community in any way she could, eventually fundraising over $1 million for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

How Robin Started the Brigantine Aquatic Center

The opening of the Brigantine Aquatic Center all started with the question of where the young children of Brigantine, NJ, could receive swimming lessons. 

“I remember going to a local dance recital with my sister, and I had asked her where the kids went for swimming lessons, and she said “There’s not a place around here built for that,” and I simply responded, ‘Well, we should build one,” states Robin.

“They laughed when I mentioned it, but I was set out to build an aquatic center to share the passion I had for swimming with others.” 

The Brigantine Aquatic Center was then opened in 2001, where Robin currently owns and mentors her aquatic teachers with her husband, daughter, and niece. It is now the home of a wide range of swim programs that has taught more than 7,500 children and is the home of the GreenHeads Swimming Team, a Special Olympics Swim Team, and a Master’s Team. 

Additionally, Robin is deeply involved with the Atlantic City community in which she launched Green Whales Inc, a non-profit that funds program’s like Whelan’s Whales, Greenheads Swimming, and Stanley’s Special Friends to support free swimming programs for inner-city youth.

Thank You For Making a Difference in Water Safety!

Without Robin’s help, many children in the Atlantic City Area would not have had the opportunity to learn how to swim and find passion within the aquatics industry. Her impact in her community has launched countless scholarships, donations, and funding opportunities for children to get involved in swimming.

Her approach to water safety is very hands-on, and she strives to continue to make water safety education and swimming available for every child in New Jersey with the help of more water safety legislation.

As a founding member of the New Jersey Swim Safety Alliance, she is currently working towards passing Bill A618, which requires school districts to provide water safety instruction as part of New Jersey’s Student Learning Standards for Comprehensive Health and Physical Education in grades Kindergarten through 12. 

“Children and parents need the information to protect themselves in the water,” Robin states, “No parent wants their child to become a tragic statistic.”

The NDPA is honored to present this accolade for Robin’s hard work and passion for her community.

Thank you for being a Water Safety Champion, Robin Taylor!

If you are making a difference in water safety and drowning prevention or know someone who has, we want to hear your story. 

Please take a moment to share the story on our website for a chance to be nationally recognized as a Water Safety Champion.

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Winter comes and goes with flurries of snow, ice, and cold water each year– three things nobody should ever take lightly. Whether you plan to be near the water or not, cold water can be dangerous, especially if you are unprepared. 

Winter activities like ice skating, ice-fishing, and boating are fun, but to keep them enjoyable, your safety should always be your number one priority. Knowing what can happen if you fall into cold water and what to do in those first few seconds could save you or your loved one’s life.

Why Cold Water Can Be Dangerous

When you go outside on a warmer-than-usual winter day, you might not think the water will be as cold, but air temperatures can be deceiving.

Any water temperature below 70°F should be treated cautiously, and cold shock can begin at temperatures between 50-60°F.

Cold water can cause the body to lose four times more heat than cold air. Therefore, when someone hits cold water, their body begins to go into “cold shock,” causing dramatic changes like involuntary gasps, rapid breathing, a heart rate and blood pressure spike, and reduced mental capabilities.

Cold shock comes in three main phases: 

  1. The Gasp:

Cold water immersion can trigger the “gasp factor,” making breathing difficult. Water can fill the lungs if your head gets submerged when the “gasp factor” happens. 

  1. Body Exhaustion:

Loss of muscular control and overall body weakness in the limbs, hands, and feet can be felt within seconds. The longer in cold water, the more severe the symptoms become. When the body becomes weak, it is harder to stay floating without assistance.

  1. Hypothermia:

Hypothermia is the extreme lowering of core body temperature and can be dangerous if not treated.  For example, having your core body temperature drop below 95°F may result in unconsciousness and death. 

Depending on the temperatures of the water, minimizing the time you are in the water is essential. Therefore, if you are going to be on/near cold water or ice, it is always best to be adequately prepared if you or a loved one falls in.

cold-water-safety-tips-lake

Cold Water Safety Tips:

Whenever you go on a winter outing, always prepare as if you are going to fall into cold water.

The following cold water safety tips will help you keep you and your loved ones safe around cold water this winter:

4 Essential Cold Water Safety Tips: 

  1. Check the weather and water conditions before you go out. You will want to dress for the water temperature, not the air temperature.  Some examples include:
  • Wet Suit
  • Dry Suit
  • Immersion Suit
  • Survival Suit
  • Exposure Coveralls
  1. Always wear a brightly colored USCG-approved life jacket.
  2. Bring a communication device like a cell phone, position-indicating radio Beacon (EPIRB), personal locator beacon (PLB), or a VHF radio.
  3. Communicate your location, supplies, and plans with someone you trust on land. 

If You Fall Into Cold Water Safety Tips: 

  • Hold your hands over your mouth to prevent gasping in cold water.
  • Try to stay calm and control your breathing. 
  • Assess your surroundings and devise a plan to get to safety.
  • Minimize your time in the water by doing 10 minutes of meaningful movement to safety. 
  • If you can’t find a place to swim to get to safety, use the H.E.L.P position, or if you are with a group, the Huddle Position until help can arrive.
cold-water-safety-help-position
H.E.L.P Position:
Draw your knees to your chin and keep your legs together.
cold-water-safety-huddle-position
Huddle Position:
Form a huddle with other people to lessen body heat loss.

After Rescue Cold Water Safety Tips:

After a person is rescued from cold water, their body temperature will continue to drop. Seconds count even after getting someone out of cold water. Here are some helpful steps to take after a cold rescue:

  • Call 911 immediately.
  • Get to a warm place and begin actively trying to warm up as you monitor breathing and blood circulation.
  • Remove any wet clothing and wrap them or yourself in blankets or new dry clothing.
  • The core should be warmed first, then other limbs like hands and feet. 
  • Avoid warming up too quickly, and DO NOT go into warm water. Warming up too quickly can cause an irregular heart rate. 

Ice Safety Tips

Ice can be tricky and is never 100% safe. Typically, ice only sometimes freezes uniformly in one location, so it’s essential always to have a plan prepared before going on or around the ice. 

General Safety Around Ice:

  • Always check the temperature outside. Air temperatures can often impact the quality of ice. You will always want to dress for the water temperature rather than the air temperature.
  • Always wear a brightly colored USCG-approved life jacket. Lifejackets will help you stay afloat when the stages of cold shock begin.
  • Check the ice thickness in multiple areas. General ice thickness guidelines recommend that a minimum of 4” of clear ice is safe for activities on foot.
  • Go with a buddy & share with others your activity plans, including what supplies you are taking, your location, and the personal location devices you have with you.
  • Bring an ice safety kit that includes rope, ice picks, a whistle, a cell phone or VHF radio, spiked shoes, an emergency first aid kit, extra clothes, and blankets.

If YOU Fall Through The Ice:

  • Remain calm and avoid panicking.
  • Face the direction you came and spread your arms out on the unbroken ice.
  • Begin kicking your feet and try to pull yourself onto the ice.
  • Once you pull yourself out of cold water, remain lying on the ice, but do not stand!
  • Roll away from the hole and crawl as carefully as possible to solid land.
  • Treat yourself for hypothermia and seek medical attention immediately.

If Someone Falls Through Ice: 

  • Call 911 immediately.
  • Reach, Throw, or Row; never go out on broken ice!
    • Reach: If you can reach them safely on solid ground, extend an object such as a rope, a tree branch, or a ladder. If you cannot hold their weight, release your grip and find a different approach.
    • Throw: Toss an end of a rope or a floating device to tie around themselves before phase 2 of cold shock begins.
    • Row: If the ice is completely broken apart and can hold a small row boat to reach the victim. Use the paddle to pull them aboard. 
  • Help the person into dry clothes or a blanket ASAP.
  • Seek immediate medical attention after rescue. 

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Ice Rescue with First Responders

Always Know and Practice Cold Water Safety During the Winter

After reading these tips and educating yourself on the hazards of cold water, you and your loved ones will be better prepared for any winter outing, whether you are near the water or not.

Regardless of the water temperature, you should always know about the water’s dangers and understand how to counteract them, especially by using the 5 Layers of Protection.

All layers of protection must work together to help prevent the tragedy of drowning. Water safety isn’t just during swim time. It is a year-long practice! 

For more information about water safety and the 5 Layers of Protection, become a Water Safety Champion today! 

Water safety is paramount whether running an aquatic facility, teaching swimming lessons, or competing in aquatic events. Access to the necessary resources is essential to ensure aquatic professionals have the tools to create safer environments.

Aquatic professionals should know the available resources to help them and learn about the latest industry standards.

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Grant Programs

One of the main tasks of an aquatic professional is to ensure that their facilities and communities are water safe. By utilizing grant programs, these professionals can obtain the necessary funds to provide essential resources to those in their community.

Budgets are constantly being reduced and cuts are continuously made in many public services and recreation areas nowadays. This is why grants are a reliable source of funding for many organizations. Securing grants helps fill the gap for aquatic professionals that strive to keep communities safer around all bodies of water.

You should know a few:

Step Into Swim

Step Into Swim is a Pool & Hot Tub Alliance initiative committed to creating more swimmers. Every child deserves access to safe swimming education and the ability to feel confident, inspired, and empowered in the water. Step Into Swim is making waves in the name of drowning prevention and is a go-to resource for water safety.

To date, the Step into Swim program has provided 273,000 swim lessons. Click here to apply.

USA Swimming Learn to Swim Grants

USA Swimming has awarded grants since 2007 to help fund youth learn-to-swim programs. It has done so nationwide via its network of more than 1,600 verified swim lesson providers. In 2022, the USA Swimming awarded $932,000 to youth ($802,000) and adult ($130,000) swim lesson providers. Grants for programs focusing on adult learn-to-swim efforts were awarded for the first time in 2022. This was thanks to a partnership with U.S. Masters Swimming.

Youth Learn To Swim Grants

USA Swimming Youth Learn to Swim Grants are intended to expand existing learn-to-swim programs. It also seeks to support opportunities for children who otherwise would not participate in swimming lessons. This program helps children to acquire the life-saving skill of swimming.  The swim lesson program can use the award to offer free or reduced-cost swimming lessons. It can also support transportation costs to/from the swim lesson location(s).

The application window for Youth Learn to Swim Grants runs from mid-October to mid-December. The selected awards are announced in the early spring of the subsequent year.  Interested applicants MUST be an approved provider within the Swim Lesson Provider Network prior to December 1. Find more details here.

Adult Learn To Swim Grants

The Adult Learn to Swim Grant Application is open to all swim instructors, facilities, and programs that want to help make more adults safer around water, with a goal to reduce adult drowning risk through education, financial support, and community outreach. The program hopes that once adults learn to swim or improve their swimming skills, they will have the confidence and desire to continue swimming in a Masters Swimming program and experience the lifelong benefits of swimming. Want to apply? Click here.

Pool Safely Grant Program

In accordance with the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act, the CPSC accepts applications for the Pool Safely Grant Program (PSGP). This program provides state and local governments with assistance to help implement enforcement and education programs, with the goal of preventing drownings and drain entrapments in pools & spas.

CPSC awards up to a total of $2 million in two-year grants to assist jurisdictions in reducing deaths and injuries from drowning and drain entrapment incidents in pools and spas. Learn more about this program here.

AOAP Swim Lessons and Life Jacket Grant Program

The Association of Aquatic Professionals has a swim lesson and lifejacket grant program to help aid aquatic facilities in their drowning prevention efforts. The AOAP drowning prevention grant offers funding opportunities for organizations to provide education and awareness of life jacket safety.

The AOAP allocates a minimum of $5,000 for the life jacket and $5,000 for the swim lesson grant program. An annual goal is to provide 100 free lessons to underprivileged participants. It also aims to purchase 500 life jackets annually for organizations to use in their water safety efforts. AOAP members can apply for either the Swim Lesson Grant or the Life Jacket Grant, or both at the same time.

The Missouri Department of Public Safety Water Safety and Swim Lessons Grant

The Missouri Department of Public Safety announced last week the availability of a total of $300,000 in grant funding to provide water safety and swimming lessons to underserved populations.

Eligible grant expenses include personnel costs, including benefits and overtime; training- and travel-related expenses; equipment; and supplies. The projected period for the expenditure of grant funds is from Feb. 1 to May 30, 2023. Applications will be accepted only through the Missouri Department of Public Safety online WebGrants system.

Benjamin Hair Just Swim for Life Foundation

The Benjamin Hair Foundation solicits grants on a rolling basis from organizations that further the mission of the BH-JSL. These grants will primarily be given to groups that hold learn-to-swim programs for “at-risk” youth. School programs, after-school programs, church groups, and others are invited to apply. Other proposals may be considered if they further the mission of the foundation. Click for more information.

Live Like Jake Scholarship

The Live Like Jake Foundation’s main mission is to promote childhood drowning awareness and water safety. In order to accomplish this, they encourage Infant Swim Resource (ISR) Self-Rescue® technique swim lessons. They try to help minimize the costs of the lessons for those in financial need by granting scholarships nationwide. Please note that these scholarships are limited to families that truly can’t afford them. Click to apply.

The Judah Brown Project 

The Judah Brown Project was created to honor Judah Brown, who passed away as the result of a tragic drowning accident.  Their mission is to provide funding for infant survival swim instruction and other lifesaving education to families of children ages 6 months – 6 years to help prevent children from drowning. In order to accomplish this, they try to help minimize the costs of the lessons for those in financial need by granting scholarships. Click for more details.

Legislation, Standards, and Codes Resources

swimming pool filter

For aquatic professionals, the safety of their patrons and staff is paramount. Knowing the legislation and codes pertaining to water safety is essential to ensure a safe environment for everyone. Aquatic professionals must stay up-to-date on changing rules, regulations, and standards to remain compliant with applicable laws. 

Resources such as government websites or professional organizations provide valuable information on laws related to water safety. For example, the American Red Cross offers multiple certifications for two years. This ensures that aquatics professionals know about water safety guidelines and practices. Additionally, online training opportunities provide an interactive way for aquatics professionals to stay informed about relevant topics in this field. 

Understanding the legal requirements associated with water safety can help aquatic professionals create a safe environment at their pool or facility. It also allows them to protect themselves from potential liabilities. Here are some to get you started:

The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act

The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act is a federal law that establishes design requirements for public and semi-public pools. These are specific requirements for drain covers (grates), drain configurations and anti-entrapment systems in public and semi-public swimming pools and spas. The Act is intended to reduce injuries and deaths associated with suction entrapment hazards in pools and spas. 

The Act took effect December 19, 2008. This means that all public and semi-public pools and spas must now be in compliance with the law. The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act can be found here.

Every Child A Swimmer Legislation

The Every Child a Swimmer legislation was introduced in March 2021. House Bill 1119 would require school districts to ask the parent of every kindergartner and any child newly entering a school whether or not that child has been taught to swim.

Now, the parents of every child enrolled in school in Florida will be given either electronic or paper access educating them on the importance of teaching their children how to swim and where to find local swimming lessons. Find more details here.

Pool Safety Act

California’s original 1996 Pool Safety Act required all new private swimming pools to be equipped with at least one approved safety measure; a permanent fence, compliant pool cover, door & window alarms, and self-closing door and window devices. 

This California pool law was amended in 2006 to include two more pool safety barriers – an ASTM F 2286-05 compliant removable mesh pool fence and an ASTM F 2208-08 pool alarm. The 2018 amendment now requires newly permitted private pools to double up security measures by requiring the pool to be equipped with 2 out of 7 choices of compliant separate safety features. On January 1, 2018 the Pool Safety Act became law. Find out more about it here.

Swimming Pool Safety Act

The Residential Swimming Pool Safety Act in Florida (Chapter 515, Florida Statutes) requires pool safety measures for pools built after October 1, 2000. The Legislature intends that all new residential swimming pools, spas, and hot tubs be equipped with at least one pool safety feature.

For more information, visit the Florida Residential Building Code Chapter 45 and Florida Building Code Chapter 4 Section 454 for updated standards.

Public swimming pools must comply with additional requirements that you can find here.

The International Swimming Pool & Spa Code® 

The International Swimming Pool & Spa Code® contains everything a pool contractor needs to make a pool safe so it can operate efficiently. It sets the minimum standard for pool and spa safety by substantially reducing the risk of child drowning through introducing or enhancing requirements for residential pools and spas. The adoption of the ISPSC can reduce drowning accidents by requiring barriers, compliant design, and slopes for entry and exit, working towards eliminating entrapment incidents once and for all, and ensuring that pools and spas are built using approved and safe materials.

State Requirements for Life Jackets

In states with no children’s life jacket law in place, a U.S. Coast Guard interim rule is applied. The rule requires children under 13 on moving boats to wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket that fits.

Even though some laws provide boaters with the minimum age for a child to wear a life jacket, a parent must decide if a child should wear one, even when the law does not require one.

Learn the requirements for your state here.

Educational Resources

Aquatics professionals have a duty to protect the safety of those in their care. Knowing the available resources is essential for providing a safe environment for every aquatic activity. 

Water safety experts recommend utilizing various resources from multiple sources to ensure the best possible water safety measures are taken. Aquatic professionals should stay up-to-date on the latest research and regulations concerning water activities and take advantage of the information available online, in professional journals, and books about aquatics activities and water safety. 

Additionally, aquatic professionals should attend classes offered by certified instructors or organizations to stay abreast of current best practices and new techniques related to programming, education, and emergency preparedness.

NDPA Resource Center

The NDPA Resource Center strives to improve access to relevant information by collecting, categorizing and organizing materials that are useful to all members of the aquatics industry and drowning prevention advocates.

This tool contains the following features:

  • NDPA Partner Directory
  • Drowning Prevention & Water Safety Resource Directory
  • Sharable Drowning Prevention Social Media Content
  • Resources for Task Forces & Coalitions
  • An Index of Drowning Prevention & Water Safety Literature containing over 300 entries
  • An Index of over 60 Regional, State, and National Water Safety, Drowning, and Injury Databases
  • NDPA & National Water Safety Conference Media Library

Find out more.

AOAP Respect The Water

One of the main goals of the Association of Aquatic Professionals is to provide drowning prevention education to aquatic professionals, operators of swimming pools and facilities as well as the general public. To accomplish this goal, the association will offer opportunities for the general public to attend drowning prevention education sessions and attend a specified time period during our annual trade show at no cost to meet with both professionals and vendors in the field of aquatics.

Find more educational resources and materials here.

Pool Safely Educational Resources

Pool Safely’s educational materials make it simple to share information about water safety that could save a life. The variety of items and materials they offer can be distributed at public pools and spas so they can be shared with friends and neighbors. Have a look at their educational materials catalog here.

To order campaign materials, click here.

Pool & Hot Tub Alliance Education 

PHTA and GENESIS education programs are designed to provide you with timely, relevant, and engaging expert advice and information on the industry and management issues you encounter daily. They offer a variety of delivery methods, from physical schools to on-demand training. They also have an ongoing Webinar Series and an Education Partner Program. 

You can choose from 10 subject categories to find the courses most relevant to your needs here.

National Water Safety Conference, presented by the NDPA

The NDPA’s annual flagship event has a long and storied history. Starting out as a small symposium in 2001, the National Water Safety Conference boasts four days of education, training, and networking in addition to a robust lineup of speakers. 

This annual event is the gathering place of multiple different sectors, stakeholders, and advocates, all of who believe “Drowning IS Preventable”.

In 2023 and 2024, the National Water Safety Conference will be co-hosted with The Association of Aquatic Professionals (AOAP). The annual Association of Aquatic Professionals Conference & Expo and the National Water Safety Conference presented by the NDPA will operate side-by-side at the same location beginning in February of 2023. The first event will take place at The Broadmoor Resort in Colorado Springs, February 13-16, 2023.

You are still in time to register for this year’s event: www.watersafetyconference.com

US National Water Safety Action Plan

The U.S. National Water Safety Action Plan is in the process of being developed by the water safety and drowning prevention community. The planning process pulls knowledge and experience from key stakeholders across the U.S. to create a comprehensive, evidence-based, realistic, and excitable plan.

The Steering Committee for the National Water Safety Action Plan comprises a passionate group of stakeholders and influencers from organizations with water safety and drowning prevention as part of their mission. The Steering Committee is charged with providing strategic oversight and guidance in developing the action plan, including supporting the activities of the working groups.

Learn more about it here.

Another year has passed, and we can’t help but look forward to all that 2023 has to offer!

It is with great excitement that the NDPA finally launched our Water Safety Champion of the Month campaign to recognize the hard-working people that are making a difference in drowning prevention and water safety.

With drowning being the leading cause of death in children ages 1-4, we must acknowledge those that are doing their part to save lives by becoming Water Safety Champions.

By learning, advocating, and implementing the 5 Layers of Protection, these individuals are actively reducing the number of drownings every single day.

One of those individuals is our first-ever Water Safety Champion of the Month, Coach David Albornoz, of Como Park Pool in St. Paul, Minnesota!

David’s Unique Background in Aquatics

In his native country of Venezuela, David Albornoz began his career in aquatics as a beach lifeguard at age 15.

Growing up in a country with friends and family that were around water constantly, he became increasingly heartbroken when he realized how profound the issue of drowning was, especially when he moved to the United States in 2002.

“I had nightmares for the families that had to experience the loss of a child. And the worst part to me was that it was completely preventable. The sad reality is: there isn’t enough access to water safety education, especially for kids of color,” Albornoz states.

Coach David had the vision to prevent drownings and save lives, and in doing so, he continued lifeguarding during his pursual of a Master’s Degree in the Arts of International Law.

Eventually, he felt the pull to return to the aquatic industry and has been coaching, lifeguarding, and advocating water safety and drowning prevention for about 30 years.

How David Is Advocating Water Safety at Como Park Pool

A proud member of St. Paul’s community, Coach David promotes water safety efforts every day and continues to motivate high school students to pursue aquatic careers.

David’s approach to continuing water safety efforts makes a huge difference when inspiring young students to pursue a career path in aquatics during this time of lifeguard shortages.

“It’s never too late to form a connection, especially for marginalized youth. Because I look and sound more like a minority, I think it becomes more memorable and relatable to those that grew up in a different cultural background,” says Albornoz.

Beyond just having a diverse aquatic and cultural background, David has teamed up with many different groups in his community to prevent drowning. In the spring of 2022, a Minnesota-based charity run by Alison Petri, Abbey’s Hope Charitable Foundation, approached Coach David and his team to help spread water safety education in the public schools across their community.

“I’m not a planner,” Albornoz joked, “but I am an executor and your number one person on the ground. I’m willing to do whatever it takes to save lives. Tell me what to do, and I will do it”.

In his community outreach efforts, he has even started a program called Rec Check Program: Safe In The Water, which provides after-school care for youth opportunities to swim and receive water safety presentations to children for an hour and a half every week.

Using this weekly program, kids can stay safe both in and out of the water more consistently while encouraging them to become more active at the same time.

Thank You For Making a Difference!

We could have lost thousands of children to preventable drownings if David hadn’t worked tirelessly to prevent these tragedies. His impact in the community has made a profound impact not just in his community but on a national level.

His approach to water safety is incredibly proactive, uplifting, and positively contagious. The NDPA is honored to present this accolade for the hard work and the passion David brings to his daily life.

Thank you for being a Water Safety Champion, David Albornoz!

If you are making a difference or know someone who has, we want to hear your story.

Please take a moment to share the story on our website for a chance to be nationally recognized as a Water Safety Champion at ndpa.org/nominate-wsc/.