Tag Archive for: water safety champion

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/.

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!

Being a water safety champion all year long

Summer is a great time to be outside and enjoy the sun and warm weather.  However, it is also the time of year when most drownings occur, so it is important to be proactive when it comes to water safety.  To address the rise in drowning incidents the NDPA launched its Water Safety Champion program which provides resources and education to help prevent drownings.

By becoming a Water Safety Champion you can let everybody know that you are invested in the safety and wellbeing of your entire community.  How?  By promoting the best water safety practices that help prevent unintentional drowning incidents.

Even though drowning is a leading cause of death for children aged 1-4, it is also completely preventable.  This is why it’s essential to prevent drowning incidents year round.

Drowning can happen anywhere there is water – a pool, bathtub, lake, river, or even a bucket of water.  Drowning can also occur at any time or season, making becoming a Water Safety Champion much more critical.  It is a life-long commitment that allows no breaks, no matter what time of year.

So let’s get started!

Make it Official: sign up to become a Water Safety Champion.

Who Can Be A Water Safety Champion?

Everyone can and should become a Water Safety Champion.

Drowning doesn’t discriminate between race, gender or age. It can happen to the best of parents in the best of families any time there is access to water. 

By becoming a Water Safety Champion you will:

  1. Promote water safety best practices in your community and help ensure everyone knows how to stay safe around water.
  2. Teach children never to go near or enter the water without an adult present. 
  3. If you see someone in trouble in the water call for help, and if you are able jump in and save them yourself – every second counts when someone is drowning.

Just go on over to ndpa.org/champion/#championform and sign up. Download your certificate, fill it out and print it to officially become a Water Safety Champion.

Businesses and Organizations can also become Water Safety Champions.

As you know, construction of backyard pools is on the rise – 2020 saw a record 23% increase in ownership. While this statistic is an undeniable win for the industry, it also brings tragedy. Drowning incidents among children have also increased.  

Becoming a Water Safety Champion is a smart business decision, showing current and future clients your commitment to water safety.   Show your potential clients know you are more than just a business to them. You’re a partner providing them peace of mind and helping them enjoy their pool or spa to the fullest. Sign up today!

What Do I Have To Do When I Become A Water Safety Champion?

Learn and implement layers of protection

As we said before, drowning is preventable, but specific strategies are needed to ensure that our kids remain safe when in or near water. These strategies are known as layers of protection.

Parents, caregivers, residential pool owners, aquatic facility owners, managers, and operators should use “layers of protection” to provide a system of increased security to prevent unauthorized access to bodies of water, especially important for children.

Drowning happens quickly and quietly, so no single layer of safety is enough. Multiple layers are necessary to help reduce the risk. This means that the following strategies are to be used constantly and simultaneously to help keep children safe:

●       Barriers

Since you can’t always be around to keep an eye on your pool or spa, it’s important to use physical barriers to restrict unauthorized access. This layer of protection comes into play in the pool or spa’s entire surrounding area and the water.

Four-sided fencing with self-closing, self-latching gates, door and window alarms, and safety covers can help make sure kids don’t get to the water unsupervised.

●       Supervision

Whether you’re using your pool or not, it’s always important to know where young children are and never leave them unattended. Close, constant, and capable adult supervision anytime children are in or around water is paramount to avoid drowning incidents.

●       Water Competency

Parents and caregivers should equip every child and adult with the skills to protect themselves in water. With the proper instruction, children can gain the competence, confidence, and respect they need to create a life-long love for the water.

Ensure every family member learns to swim, so they at least achieve the following skills of water competency:

  • Step or jump into the water over their head.
  • Return to the surface and float or tread water for one minute.
  • Turn around in a full circle and find an exit.
  • Swim 25 yards to the exit.
  • Exit from the water. If in a pool, be able to exit without using the ladder.

●       Life Jackets

Use life jackets when appropriate. Life jackets protect you when you’re not expecting to be in the water, especially around open water and while boating. All life jackets should be tested and approved by the USCG.

●       Emergency Preparation

Drowning is silent and happens fast. Knowing CPR (w/ rescue breaths) and basic water rescue can make the difference between life and death.

Using all layers of protection together is the only way to reduce the risk of drowning. You never know which layer will save a life.

Know the signs of drowning

It is essential to know what drowning looks like so that we can react swiftly and avert any sad outcomes.

Most people do not know that most drowning victims never have the chance to call for help. Drowning is fast and silent. That is why we must always be attentive to any signs of distress when children or adults are in the water. Swimmers in trouble or distress must be rescued quickly to avoid a tragedy.

Here are the signs that someone might be drowning that you should be on the look-out for:

●       The head instinctively tilts back as they try to keep the airways clear of water, and the body is in a vertical position

●       They usually face the shore in open water such as a lake, river, or beach.

●       There are signs of movement but no signs of progress in the water.

●       The arms are out to the side, pressing downward.

●       There may be a ladder-climbing motion, hands out of the water, or maybe lightly breaking the surface.

●       There is a wide-eyed, panicked expression on their face as they gasp for air.

Once it becomes clear that someone is drowning or in distress, take action and scream for a lifeguard or someone to help.  Whatever you do, do not put yourself in any sort of danger in the process. 

Source: The Kenosha Safety Around Water Coalition

Use and Share Water Safety Educational Resources

Water safety education aims to prevent drowning incidents by teaching kids, teens, and even adults how to be safe near and in the water. Water safety education also includes learning what to do should an accident take place. This knowledge can certainly make the difference between fatal and non-fatal drowning incidents.

Ideally, children’s water safety education should begin at home, and as early as possible.  Children younger than school age can begin to learn many water safety basics.  You can start by using some of these fun and free resources.

If you are a teacher, we encourage you to find ways to add water safety education to your curriculum here.

Avoid using misnomers

There are certain terms related to drowning that are commonly used in the media, and hence by the public, that shouldn’t be.

Terms such as ‘dry,’ ‘wet,’ ‘near,’ ‘silent,’ and ‘secondary’ drowning are all misnomers that should not be used when speaking of drowning incidents.

Using inconsistent, inaccurate, or medically inappropriate terms can have the unnecessary effect of instilling fear in the public and causing the wrong diagnosis for real medical issues. According to the World Health Organization, “… Effective prevention of drowning requires programs and policies that address known risk factors”, for which “… a simple but comprehensive definition is needed.”

So, in order to indeed face the problem of drowning successfully, we must refrain from using terms that are misleading and compel others to do the same, starting with the media. There is a common practice of promoting specific flotation devices as aids and protection for children when they are in the water. This is far from the case and should be addressed so that those types of messages are no longer shared or are more accurately worded, at least. It is to this end that the NDPA has created the End The Misinformation Letter.

Advocate for water safety in your community

Harness all your water safety knowledge and share it with other members of your community. Create community task forces and help make your community safer!

By learning and spreading the word about water safety and drowning prevention, you can help save lives. Water safety is everyone’s responsibility. Take the pledge to be a Water Safety Champion today and help spread the word about water safety and drowning prevention. United, we can prevent the tragedy of drowning!

Become a Water Safety Champion today!