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Drowning incidents can occur both when people are actively engaged in water activities and during non-swim times, all when an adult is present. According to the World Health Organization, a lapse in adult water supervision is the main contributing factor when young children die from drowning, even when safety measures are implemented. Fortunately, drowning is preventable but is often a result of human and environmental factors that can be improved upon with proper education and awareness.

Through years of research and collaboration with Alliance Partners and Advisors, we have developed the concept of the 5 Layers of Protection to be utilized in any aquatic environment to aid in the prevention of childhood drowning. 

While these layers are put into place as a system of increased security, each Layer of Protection should be used constantly and simultaneously in an effort to buy as much time as possible for capable adults to respond to unintentional water submersion. Each individual layer can fail, which is why the use of multiple layers at the same time is critically important. Drownings are fast, silent, and often do not look like we would expect them to. Most children will not be able to call out for help.

The Important Role Water Supervision Plays In Drowning Prevention

Children should be supervised at all times due to their naturally curious nature. Water can be fascinating and irresistible to young kids, especially if they are just learning to be mobile. 

Young children are not aware of danger yet, so it is the responsibility of a capable and alert adult to actively watch over them, even at home.

Follow these Supervision best practices in conjunction with the other 5 Layers of Protection: 

  • The  “3 C’s” of Supervision: 

    Close: 
    An adult should be within arm’s length of infants, toddlers, and children who lack water competency skills whenever in or around water

    Constant: 
    An adult must have uninterrupted attention on children at all times. That means no reading, cell phone use, or other distractions. 

    Capable: 
    Supervision of children should be done by a capable adult that can swim and knows life-saving skills, like performing CPR with rescue breaths.
  • Having General House Rules: 
    When water is present, always be aware of where your children are and never leave them unattended. Remind guests with children, babysitters, and caregivers about the potential water hazards and the need for constant and capable supervision. If a child is missing, always check the water first – each second counts!
  • Never Substitute Floatation Devices For Supervision: 
    “Water Wings” or “floaties,” inflatable water rings, and other pool toys are NOT safety devices. Only US Coast Guard-approved life jackets are designed and tested for safety. Be aware of any floatation devices marketed and sold in a way that references “learn to swim easily” or “parents can finally enjoy peace of mind.” There is not a single flotation device that replaces adult supervision for children in and around water.
  • Water Watchers: 
    Have a designated Water Watcher when engaging in water activities. A designated Water Watcher is a responsible and capable adult who agrees to actively and constantly supervise children in or around water without engaging in other activities or distractions. 

    Water Watchers should rotate every 15 minutes to keep their attention fresh. Ensure your designated Water Watcher is clearly identified with a Water Watcher card. You can download yours here.
  • Lifeguards: 
    When possible, swim near lifeguards. Lifeguards are trained in supervision, water rescue, and emergency response.  However, caregivers and parents should always maintain active supervision, even with a lifeguard present. 

Why Water Supervision Fails 

Life is hectic, and distractions will happen. In a matter of seconds, so can a drowning. A phone call, a package being delivered at the door, cleaning up a spill, or a quick trip to the bathroom are all distractions that can cause supervision to fail.

Children are curious and could venture near water even during non-swim times when water supervision is not “expected” to be required. Sadly, 70% of drownings among young children happen during these non-swim times. This is another way supervision alone can unintentionally fail, and why it’s so important that the 5 Layers of Protection are used together! 

  1. Barriers & Alarms
    It’s important to use four-sided fencing with self-closing, self-latching gates, pool safety covers, and alarm systems, to help prevent children and unauthorized adults from accessing water unsupervised.
  1. Supervision
    Stay vigilant and aware of your surroundings with close, constant, and capable adult supervision from a designated water watcher or lifeguard anytime children are in or around water.
  1. Water Competency
    Every child and adult should be equipped with the skills to protect themselves in water by learning and enhancing their basic water safety skills to reduce the risk of drowning and aquatic-related injuries.
  1. Life Jackets
    When used appropriately, life jackets protect you when you are not expecting to be in the water, especially around open water. Ensure your life jackets are tested & approved by the USCG.
  1. Emergency Preparation
    Knowing how to prepare for an emergency with CPR training with rescue breaths and basic water rescue skills can make the difference between life and death. Have a phone available and ready to call 911.

Remember, layers work together! Water safety isn’t just during swim time. Each layer should be used together when in or around water to help reduce the risk of drowning. 

Supervision – An Important Part of the 5 Layers of Protection 

A child’s life is precious, and children’s safety in and around water is the responsibility of parents and caregivers. Supervision is a very important layer of protection, but it cannot be relied upon alone. By using all 5 Layers of Protection, you are doing all you can to keep your child safe in and around water. You never know which layer will save a life!

For more information about Supervision and the 5 Layers of Protection, visit our website at NDPA.org

Reports from 2020 demonstrated that ownership of residential swimming pools rose by 23%. While this represents an undeniable victory for the industry, it also has a tragic side. 

Drowning is still the single leading cause of death for children ages 1-4 and the second leading cause of unintentional injury death for ages 5-18.  

In light of the growing popularity of backyard swimming pools, residential pool and spa professionals have a unique opportunity to advocate for water safety. As experts in the pool industry, pool and spa professionals have comprehensive knowledge of the regulations needed to make public and residential pools, spas, and hot tubs safe by following resources such as the International Swimming Pool & Spa Code and PHTA Standards.

With the support of many of our new connections made at the PSP/Deck Expo 2022, and with our existing collaborators, we wanted to make advocating for water safety easy for pool and spa professionals while on the job. Keeping up with the latest advancements in the industry is vital for our pool builders and pool service professionals to keep their communities safe, which is why we designed our Water Safety Champion Program so pool and spa pros could easily add basic water safety awareness checks with their servicing.

The Importance of Water Safety in a Residential Setting

A residential pool and spa can be a beautiful oasis for homeowners, however, that does not diminish the risk of drowning hazards around the backyard and the home. 

Even in your backyard, drowning can occur in less than 30 seconds and with very little water, so it is crucial to implement the 5 Layers of Protection to help keep families safe. 

It is up to pool builders and pool service professionals to encourage water safety by making families aware of pool safety features that can aid in the prevention of drowning and the importance of having a safety plan put into place.

Learning about the best water safety strategies through the Layers of Protection and becoming a Water Safety Champion, residential pool and spa professionals can pass along vital information to their customers and community members beyond just routine maintenance. 

When Residential Pool & Spa Professionals Become Water Safety Champions: 

After sign-up, pool and spa pros will receive exclusive access to NDPA’s Residential Pool and Spa  Toolkit which includes: 

  • A personal Water Safety Champion Certificate showcasing their advocacy for water safety
  • A brandable Pool Safety Checklist to include with routine pool maintenance checks
  • Various tools and resources like:
    • The Layers of Protection Digital Brochure & Animated Video
    • Shareable Social Media Posts & Videos
    • GIFs & Stickers

By implementing the Layers of Protection and sharing their Water Safety Champion Status, residential pool and spa professionals can help protect the lives of children and work together to spread the word about drowning prevention and water safety to their clients.

Residential Pool & Spa Professionals, Become a Water Safety Champion Today!

From the moment children are born, parents often become aware of all the dangers that appear as they grow and become curious. Although most of these dangers are part of life, drowning is silent, quick, and can be fatal. According to the CDC, for every 1 fatal childhood drowning, there are another 8 nonfatal drownings that are seen in an emergency department. Thankfully, with the proper water safety strategies and advocacy, drowning is easily preventable. 

Along with our collective efforts, many pediatricians are now prioritizing drowning prevention initiatives beyond their offices. With the support of the NDPA’s Chief Medical Advisor and AAP (the American Academy of Pediatrics) president-elect Dr. Benjamin Hoffman and fellow NDPA medical advisor, Dr. Julie Gilchrist, we wanted to make water safety easily accessible to other pediatricians and medical advisors. 

To address the ever-present need to advocate for water safety beyond just their practices, NDPA has created an exclusive toolkit for pediatricians with the proper drowning prevention strategies  needed to share and advocate for water safety practices with their patients and parents.

Why Should Pediatricians Become Water Safety Champions?

Pediatricians are critical leaders in their field when it comes to child safety. They often see children for a large portion of their life and learn first-hand what concerns parents have for their children. By having a strong relationship with their patients and parents, pediatricians can uniquely position themselves as water safety advocates to address concerns about water-related injury incidents and drowning risks. 

By learning, advocating, and implementing the Layers of Protection, pediatricians can show parents that they care about more than just providing healthcare to their children, giving them the peace of mind that their children will be safe beyond office hours.

When Pediatricians Become A Water Safety Champion: 

After sign-up, pediatricians will receive exclusive access to NDPA’s Pediatrician Toolkit which includes: 

  • A personal Water Safety Champion Certificate showcasing their advocacy for water safety
  • Printable Water Watcher Cards
  • Awareness Posters to hang in offices
  • The Layers of Protection Digital Brochure
  • Shareable social media posts & videos
  • GIFs & Stickers

As Dr. Ben Hoffman states, “Kids need us. They can’t vote, so they need advocates. Pediatricians, by nature, are advocates by the work we can do, not only at the community level but the policy level to help systems change.” 

Drowning is a preventable tragedy, but it takes all of us to learn and advocate for the latest knowledge and standards for water safety. 

By implementing the Layers of Protection and their Water Safety Champion Status, pediatricians can help protect the lives of children and work together to spread the word about drowning prevention and water safety to their patients and parents.  

Pediatricians, it’s time to support your patients beyond the office by becoming a Water Safety Champion!

Commercial Aquatics Professionals and their facilities are in a unique position to advocate for water safety. With their experience in working with children and families in both educational and recreational settings, they can quickly deliver essential messages about water safety to populations of all ages and ability levels. 

We recognize the enormous work that goes into running and maintaining a commercial aquatic facility. It’s essential to make communicating critical water safety messages easy, which is why we launched the Water Safety Champion Program, which includes all the latest in drowning prevention information, free downloadable facility tools, and resources. 

What is a Water Safety Champion?

Despite our collective and tireless efforts, drowning is the single leading cause of death for children ages 1-4. While young children are at the highest risk, anyone can drown.  

To address the rise in drowning incidents, we have launched a Water Safety Champion Program providing the latest resources and education about the best water safety practices available to help prevent unintentional drowning and aquatic injuries. The water safety information covered in the 5 Layers of Protection resulted from years of research and collaboration with Alliance Partners and advisors.

Why Should Commercial Aquatics Professionals Become Water Safety Champions?

Although most drownings don’t happen at commercial aquatic facilities, they are still critical to bringing awareness to water safety in their communities and clients. Drownings can still happen anywhere in or near water, including pools, bathtubs, lakes, rivers – even buckets of water. 

By learning about the best water safety strategies through the Layers of Protection, and the Water Safety Champion program, commercial aquatics professionals can show patrons they care while playing a vital role in keeping their community safe in and around water. 

When Commercial Aquatics Professionals Become Water Safety Champions: 

After sign-up, commercial aquatics professionals will receive exclusive access to NDPA’s Commercial Aquatics Toolkit which includes: 

  • A personal Water Safety Champion Certificate showcasing their advocacy for water safety
  • A Water Safety Champion Facility Poster to display in their aquatic facility 
  • Various tools and resources like:
    • Awareness Posters
    • Printable Water Watcher Cards
    • GIFs & Stickers
    • The Layers of Protection Digital Brochure & Animated Video
    • Shareable Social Media Posts & Videos

By implementing the Layers of Protection and sharing their Water Safety Champion Status, commercial aquatics facilities can help protect the lives of children and work together to spread the word about drowning prevention and water safety to their patrons.  

While many commercial aquatic facilities face challenging times due to COVID-19, staffing shortages, and new regulations, we hope this program will support their continued efforts in drowning prevention and water safety! 

Commercial Aquatics Professionals, Become a Water Safety Champion Today!

As folks began to gather at the inaugural NDPA Research Summit in September there was an air of excitement knowing that collaboration to address research needs around the layers of protection will undoubtedly begin to reveal the most effective strategies for water safety and drowning prevention. While there were many familiar faces in the room, there were several I did not know. In particular was a mother who had suffered great loss and whose child’s story was critical to the conversation that day. As I introduced myself to this brave woman, she expressed concern that she did not have the right credentials to be in the room. Her humility touched me as there was no one more deserving of inclusion that day than this mother. She, more than anyone, knows that there is more work to be done.

We live in a world of immense beauty and deep pain, and sometimes it can be a challenge to be hopeful, but we must.  In order to achieve our highest possibilities as a community, and as people who love one another we should take a moment to examine ourselves and truly continue the important work that we do every day.  Our work is that light that shines in the darkness.  Our work is what brings comfort to so many.  We can be the example of what is possible; people who do not shy away from the hard conversations, or the hard work.   
 
Read the NDPA DEI Statement here.

NDPA’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Statement

Like many of you, we at NDPA are keenly aware of systemic inequities that disproportionately burden many members of our society and this concerns us.  It concerns us to think that we continue to grapple with a justice system that doesn’t always get it right It concerns us that many communities at risk for drowning (African Americans, Alaskan Natives, individuals with cognitive disabilities, and others) lack access to basic life skills that would help to protect them in water.  It concerns us that it is so difficult to even agree that we all should be working toward an anti-racist society.  
  
We live in a world of immense beauty and deep pain, and sometimes it can be a challenge to be hopeful, but we must.  In order to achieve our highest possibilities as a community, and as people who love one another we should take a moment to examine ourselves and truly continue the important work that we do every day.  Our work is that light that shines in the darkness.  Our work is what brings comfort to so many.  We can be the example of what is possible; people who do not shy away from the hard conversations, or the hard work.

To begin this hard work, NDPA strives to provide informed, authentic leadership for cultural equity by:

  • seeing diversity, inclusion, and equity as connected to our mission and critical to ensuring the well-being of our staff and the communities we serve. 
  • acknowledging and dismantling any inequities within our policies, systems, programs, and services and continually update and report organization progress.
  • exploring potential underlying, unquestioned assumptions that interfere with inclusiveness. 
  • advocating for and supporting board‐level thinking about how systemic inequities impact our organization’s work and how best to address that in a way that is consistent with our mission.
  • challenging assumptions about what constitutes strong leadership at our organization and who is well positioned to provide leadership. 
  • practicing and encouraging transparent communication in all interactions. 
  • committing time and resources to expand more diverse leadership within our board, staff, committees, and advisory bodies. 
  • leading with respect and tolerance, and we expect all employees and volunteers to embrace this notion and to express it in workplace interactions and through everyday practices.

NDPA abides by the following action items to help promote diversity and inclusion in our workplace:

  • pursue cultural competency throughout our organization by creating substantive learning opportunities and formal, transparent policies.
  • conduct or identify research related to equity to make incremental, measurable progress toward the visibility of our diversity, inclusion, and equity efforts and make that information publicly available. 
  • improve our cultural leadership pipeline by creating and supporting programs and policies that foster leadership that reflects the diversity of American society. 
  • pool resources and expand offerings for underrepresented constituents by connecting with other organizations committed to diversity and inclusion efforts.
  • develop and present sessions on diversity, inclusion, and equity to provide information and resources internally and to the community. 
  • develop a system for being more intentional and conscious of bias during the hiring, promoting, or evaluating process.   
  • include a salary range with all public job descriptions.
  • advocate for public and private‐sector policy that promotes diversity, inclusion, and equity and challenge systems and policies that create inequity, oppression, and disparity.

Drowning is a preventable tragedy.  Every year, thousands of people die from drowning, and many more suffer from permanent disability as a result. The Drowning Prevention Symposium is an annual event hosted by the National Drowning Prevention Alliance that gathers experts to share the latest water safety data and research with the common goal of reducing the number of drowning incidents in the country.  

This year’s symposium will be held on October 13th & 14th at the 2022 World Aquatic Health Conference in Houston, TX.  Attendees will have the opportunity to learn from the leading experts in the field and network with other professionals working to prevent drownings at both events if attending in person. You can also register to participate in the symposium virtually from the comfort of your home or office.

The Drowning Prevention Symposium is the perfect opportunity to learn about the latest water safety data and research. In an effort to prevent more drownings, we will be discussing critical water safety topics that include:

  • The newest water safety data and research, 
  • How to increase water safety advocacy in communities, counties, and states
  • How the commercial crisis affects our work in water safety. 
  • Advocating for legislation & adoption of standards and codes,
  • Update on the US National Water Safety Action Plan development.

With these discussions, it is hoped that more people will be equipped to prevent drownings. 

This symposium provides an essential platform for sharing life-saving information about water safety. It is a crucial step in ensuring that more people are aware of the dangers of drowning and how to prevent it.

This is a critical event for all members of the aquatics community and water safety advocates that should not be missed. 

Register today to ensure your spot at the symposium!

Click to here register for the in-person event.

Click to here register for the virtual event.

Check out the Virtual Drowning Prevention Symposium Agenda here.

From the NDPA Board President's Pen

In his last official act as President of the NDPA Board of Directors, Blake Collingsworth has issued himself a pardon from all future committee assignments. As we know, Blake’s courage and compassion in support of NDPA’s mission is tireless and arguably unparalleled. Thus, as my first act as President of the NDPA Board of Directors, Blake’s pardon has been revoked.

All kidding aside, when you see Blake and Cathy, please take a moment to express your deepest gratitude for their steadfast leadership. In addition to a passion for drowning prevention and water safety, Blake, Cathy and I also share membership in Rotary International where we are guided by the Four Way Test:

  1. Is it the TRUTH?
  2. Is it FAIR to all concerned?
  3. Will it build GOOD WILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS?
  4. Is it BENEFICIAL to all concerned?

It is with these core guiding principles that I am humbled and honored to step into the NDPA Board Presidency. Some highlights of the work our board, in partnership with a stellar staff, will focus on in the coming months include:

  • Grounding diversity, equity and inclusion as connected to our mission and critical to ensuring the well-being of the communities we serve.
  • Connecting our board more authentically with the people and communities we serve through broad committee engagement.
  • Infuse new energy and vision into the strategic direction of NDPA as the national flagship water safety and drowning prevention organization.

As fellow board member Jeremy Smith announced multiple times at this year’s Water Safety Conference, my email is pam.cannell@boardbuild.org. Feel free to reach out to let me know how you would like to get involved in the good work we are doing to save lives.


Gratefully,

Pam Cannell
Board President, NDPA
President & CEO, BoardBuild

NDPA Launches New Brand, Website & Campaign

Despite all of our collective tireless efforts, drowning is still the single leading cause of death for children 1-4. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, as of 2018 drowning has surpassed birth defects as the most common cause of death in this age group. However, our theme for our 2020 conference still applies…Drowning won’t stop, so neither will we!

To rise and meet this challenge, the NDPA will launch a refreshed brand, new website, and new campaign! We will officially unveil our new brand and website on Monday, November 15! Then, we will launch our new campaign focused on backyard pool and spa safety on Tuesday, November 16 at the International Pool, Spa, Patio and Deck Expo in Dallas, TX. Below are details about the new programs.

National Drowning Prevention Alliance

Branding Refresh

The NDPA’s mission is “United, we can prevent the tragedy of drowning”, and our vision is to become the top destination for drowning prevention education in the United States. As we mature and enter into our next phase of growth, our leadership has decided to ensure that NDPA’s brand and image reflect the seriousness and importance of the issues we are working to solve. Our refreshed look is centered on a blue pallet of colors. The color blue represents responsibility, sincerity, professionalism, stability, and intelligence; all of which are core values of the NDPA. In the coming weeks we will be making new member, partner, supporter, and sponsor logos available via our online resource center and through email NDPA communications.

NDPA - National Drowning Prevention Alliance - MEMBER
NDPA - National Drowning Prevention Alliance - PARTNER

New Website

To better meet the various audiences we serve, the NDPA will launch a new website. Our new website is designed to give our users the information and resources that they need the most. Parents and professionals will have dedicated areas with critical tools, knowledge, and resources to best meet their needs. The NDPA members and partners will continue to have quick and easy access to the NDPA Resource Center and programs in a new dedicated area of the new website. Additional resources and expanded tools will also be launching in the coming months.


Water Safety Champion

Water Safety Champions

The pool and spa industry has reported growth of 20%+ since the start of the 2020 and layers of protection are critical to backyard safety. In response, the NDPA will be launching a new campaign focused on championing safety in backyard pool and spa environments. We are launching first phase of this exciting campaign will launch at the International Pool, Spa, Patio, and Deck Expo in Dallas, TX. Our focus will be focused on supporting and working with pool and spa industry professionals to enhance consumer water safety education in a positive and proactive way. Pool and spa professionals will have the first opportunity to sign up to become Water Safety Champions and join us on the mission to save lives!


Know The Layers Of Protection

The NDPA is dedicated to reducing drowning and enhancing water safety in the US. As an alliance of parents, professionals, advocates, researchers, and leaders, the organization is focused on impacting the staggering statistics of this preventable injury. Remember, drowning IS preventable!

Best regards,

Team NDPA

NDPA & AOAP Team Up For The 2023 & 2024 Conferences!

Joint announcement from the Association of Aquatic Professionals and the National Drowning Prevention Alliance

The Association of Aquatic Professionals (AOAP) and the National Drowning Prevention Alliance (NDPA) are excited to announce the co-location of their flagship conferences in 2023 and 2024. 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.

“By co-locating the conferences, the two associations will provide a one-stop shop for all aquatic professionals and advocates, with the ability to learn from each other’s experiences and move closer to the ultimate goal of drowning prevention by providing safe aquatic experiences for all,” said Juliene Hefter, the executive director of the AOAP.

ABOUT AOAP’S CONFERENCE: For over a decade, the AOAP Conference has earned a reputation as the premier educational gathering for aquatic professionals, drawing over 800 attendees, including health inspectors, building-code officials, aquatic-facility managers, and others. This dynamic event provides attendees with the latest technical, practical, and hands-on education designed to improve drowning prevention, aquatic programming, team leadership and training, risk management, technical operations, and overall facility management.

ABOUT NDPA’S CONFERENCE: The NDPA’s annual flagship event has a long and storied history. Starting out as a small symposium in 2001, the newly rebranded National Water Safety Conference boast four days of education, training, and networking in addition to a robust line up of speakers. This annual event is the gathering place of multiple different sectors, stakeholders, and advocates all who believe “Drowning IS Preventable”.

“The natural pairing of the NDPA and AOAP’s events at one singular location is a win for everyone in water safety. Both organization’s attendees play a key and active role in drowning prevention and water safety in the US and beyond. Co-locating the conferences over the same dates and at the same location will provide unimaginable collaboration and innovation,” said Dr. Adam Katchmarchi, executive director of the NDPA.

Conference attendees will have the opportunity to register for both conferences at discounted rates. The conferences will share a combined exhibit hall, some educational sessions, and numerous other cross-over events such as an all-conference social.

For more information, please contact:

Juliene Heftner
Executive Director, AOAP
juliene@aquaticpros.org

Adam Katchmarchi
Executive Director, NDPA
adam@ndpa.org