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Pool Safety Tips for the 4th

The holiday is prime time for drowning and other accidents

Few things are more fun than celebrating the Independence Day holiday around the pool. But nothing can spoil the fun faster than a poolside tragedy. 

As the holiday b approaches, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is releasing some sobering statistics on the number of drownings during previous July 4th holidays. CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum is reminding parents and caregivers to pool safely during upcoming pool parties and celebrations with family and friends. 

"Along with fireworks, spending time in the pool is a traditional July 4th activity for many families," Chairman Tenenbaum said. "Child drownings are a preventable tragedy, so we encourage all families who are planning to spend time in pools and spas over the Independence Day holiday and all summer to adopt as many safety steps as possible. You never know which safety step will save a life -- until it does." 

Fourth of July tragedy 

According to analysis of media reports by USA Swimming, the national governing body for the sport of swimming, there were 25 drowning incidents involving children younger than 15 reported last year over the week of the July 4 holiday (June 30 through July 6). 

In 2010, 24 drowning incidents were reported during that same week. CPSC reports that annually there are about 390 pool or spa-related drownings for children younger than 15. Another 5,200 children of that age go to hospital emergency rooms for near-drowning injuries. An unknown number of children are seriously brain-damaged. 

Pool Safely 

CPSC's Pool Safely campaign ( is a national public education effort to reduce child drownings, near-drownings and entrapments in swimming pools and spas. The campaign's message is that Simple Steps Save Lives. Simple water steps that could help families avoid a tragedy this holiday include: 

Staying Alert 

  • Never leave a child unattended in a pool or spa and always watch your children closely around all bodies of water
  • Teach children basic water safety tips
  • Keep children away from pool drains, pipes and other openings to avoid entrapments
  • Have a telephone close by when you or your family are using a pool or spa
  • If a child is missing, look for him or her in the pool or spa first
  • Share safety instructions with family, friends and neighbors 

Water safety skills 

  • Learn how to swim and teach your child how to swim
  • Learn to perform CPR on children and adults, and update those skills regularly
  • Understand the basics of life-saving so that you can assist in a pool emergency 

The right equipment 

  • Install a four-foot or taller fence around the pool and spa and use self-closing and self-latching gates; ask your neighbors to do the same at their pools
  • Install and use a lockable safety cover on your spa
  • If your house serves as a fourth side of a fence around a pool, install and use a door or pool alarm
  • Maintain pool and spa covers in good working order
  • Ensure any pool and spa you use has drain covers that comply with federal standards, and ask your pool service provider if you do not know
  • Have lifesaving equipment such as life rings, floats or a reaching pole available and easily accessible
Following a few simple rules can prevent a July 4th tragedy...

School's Out, Drowning Season in Full Swing

Children under 5 are at greatest risk

With school out and the swimming pool season in full swing, it’s a good time to remember that summer fun can turn to tragedy in the blink of an eye.

Children younger than 5 years old represent nearly 75 percent of child drowning fatalities and African American and Hispanic children between the ages of 5 and 14 drown at higher rates than white children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Data from USA Swimming indicate that 70 percent of African American children and 62 percent of Hispanic children cannot swim, making them especially vulnerable populations. 

"CPSC's Pool Safely campaign has worked to prevent countless drownings, and we will continue to work to save even more lives this year," said Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) Chairman Inez Tenenbaum. "Drowning is still the leading cause of unintentional deaths with children younger than 5. That's why the Pool Safely campaign is encouraging all parents and caregivers of children, especially African American and Hispanic children, to help them learn to swim and to take water safety seriously."

Sobering statistics

New statistics released by CPSC include:

An annual average of 390 pool or spa-related drownings for children younger than 15 occurred from 2007 to 2009; about 75 percent (293) of the reported fatalities involved children younger than five.

An estimated annual average of 5,200 pool or spa-related emergency department-treated submersion injuries for children younger than 15, from 2009 to 2011; children younger than 5 represented 79 percent, or 4,108, of these injuries.

Children between the ages of 1 and 3 (12 months through 47 months) represented 66 percent of estimated injuries for 2009 through 2011 and 67 percent of the reported fatalities for 2007 through 2009 involving children younger than 15 years.

The majority of the estimated emergency department-treated submersion injuries for 2009 through 2011 and the reported fatalities for 2007 through 2009 were associated with pools.

Approximately 51 percent of the estimated injuries for 2009 through 2011 and 73 percent of the fatalities for 2007 through 2009 involving children younger than 15 years old occurred at a residence.

Residential locations dominated incidents involving victims younger than 5 years of age (54 percent for injuries and 85 percent for fatalities).

Approximately 58 percent of fatalities (annual average of 226) occurred in in-ground pools. Portable pools accounted for 10 percent of the reported fatalities (annual average of 40) to children younger than 15 years of age.

There were no reported entrapment fatalities for 2011. CPSC received seven reports of entrapment injury incidents during 2011.

Making a difference

"After losing my son, I wanted to do something to help others, so other moms wouldn't have to suffer from the loss of a child drowning," said Wanda Butts, a mother who lost her son to drowning in 2006 and formed The Josh Project to help other children learn how to swim. "Together, we can make a difference this summer and ensure that our kids pool safely."

"The USA Swimming Foundation is proud to lend its research and resources to further the life-saving learn-to-swim message," according to USA Swimming's "Make a Splash" official Kim O'Shea. "We are incredibly proud to have enrolled more than 1.2 million children in swimming lessons through our Make a Splash initiative, to educate parents and communities across the nation about the importance of learning to swim."

Pool Safely, a national public education campaign, works with partners around the country to reduce child drownings, near-drownings submersions and entrapment incidents in swimming pools and spas.

Parents, caregivers, and the media are encouraged to visit or @PoolSafely on Twitter for vital safety information regarding the prevention of child submersions in and around pools and spas.

With school out and the swimming pool season in full swing, it’s a good time to remember that summer fun can turn to tragedy in the blink of an eye....

Pool Products Distributor Settles Charges of Anticompetitive Tactics

Pool Corp. agrees not to use threats and coercion to stifle competition

Pool Corporation, the largest distributor of swimming pool products in the United States, has agreed to stop anticompetitive tactics that it allegedly has been using to keep out new competitors in local markets around the nation, as part of a settlement that resolves charges by the Federal Trade Commission.

PoolCorp distributes products used in the construction, renovation, repair, service, and maintenance of residential and commercial swimming pools.

The FTC charged that for the past eight years, PoolCorp, based in Covington, Louisiana, used its monopoly power to thwart entry by new competitors by blocking them from buying pool products directly from manufacturers. The strategy significantly raised the costs incurred by its rivals, thereby lowering sales, increasing prices, and reducing the number of choices available to consumers, the agency alleged.

Specifically, the FTC contends that PoolCorp threatened manufacturers of pool products that PoolCorp would not sell their products at any of its 200 distribution centers if manufacturers also sold their products to new distributor rivals. According to the complaint, PoolCorp's threats were significant because the loss of PoolCorp sales could be catastrophic to even the largest pool products manufacturer.

As a result, the agency alleged, these threats were effective, and manufacturers representing more than 70 percent of all pool products sales refused to sell to new distributors. In order for a distributor to succeed, the FTC alleged, it must be able to buy pool products directly from manufacturers because there are no cost-effective alternatives.

The FTC alleges that PoolCorp's conduct impeded new distributors from entering the market, raised the costs of new distributors, and likely resulted in higher prices. The FTC alleged that the company's tactics constituted illegal exclusionary acts and practices. There allegedly was no pro-competitive rationale for PoolCorp's exclusionary conduct.

The proposed order settling the charges is intended to remedy PoolCorp's alleged anticompetitive conduct. It prohibits PoolCorp from:

  • Conditioning the purchase or sale of pool products, or membership in PoolCorp's preferred vendor program, on the intended or actual sale of pool products by a manufacturer to any other distributor;
  • Pressuring, urging, or otherwise coercing manufacturers to stop selling, or to limit their sales, to any other distributor; and
  • Discriminating or retaliating against a manufacturer for selling, or intending to sell, pool products to any other distributor.

The settlement order also requires PoolCorp to put in place an antitrust compliance program to ensure it does not violate the terms of the order in the future.

Pool Corporation, the largest distributor of swimming pool products in the United States, has agreed to stop anticompetitive tactics that it allegedly has ...

Study: Portable Pools Pose Drowning Risk

Most accidents occur at child's home

Portable backyard swimming pools, the kind that are readily available at discount stores, pose a very real drowning risk for young children, according to a report published in the journal Pediatrics.

The study looked at the number of incidents involving children under 12 in portable pools. Using Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) Data from 2001 through 2009, the researchers found that 209 children drowned in the pools, some of which are only about 12 inches deep.

In 94 percent of the accidents, the victims were five years old or younger.

“The use of portable pools in residential settings poses a significant risk of submersion-related morbidity and mortality to children, especially in the under 5-year-old age group,” the authors write.

Noting the accidents mostly took place at the child's home and often occurred in very shallow water, the study concludes that no single strategy will prevent all submersion deaths and injuries. It says there should be layers of protection.

Advice for industry

“Industry is advised to engage in development of protective devices that are effective and affordable for portable pools, including isolation fencing, pool alarms, and safety covers,” the report said. “A strong and pervasive consumer education campaign is needed to make consumers aware of the dangers of portable pools, because these small, inexpensive, consumer-installed pools may not generate the same sense of risk as an in-ground pool.”

The report is timely, since most drowning deaths and injuries occur during the summer months. Also, the authors note that the number of families using these portable, often inflatable pools, has grown in recent years.

The study notes that modern, in-ground pools come with a number of safety features, including pool covers, alarms, ladders and fencing. Portable pools, on the other hand, don't come with these features. Homeowners who purchase a portable pool, for example, are not likely to erect a fence around it, since the fence would be much more expensive than the pool itself.

For very young children, the authors said a portable pool may not be a good idea. Before purchasing one, they said parents should commit to strict supervision during their use. For very young children, they say a lawn sprinkler is a much more effective – and safer – way to keep toddlers cool during the summer.

A study in the journal Pediatrics warns that portable backyard pools are a growing danger to children...

Feds, Industry Team Up To Push Pool Safety

Pool and spa industry association to serve as information hub for industry and consumers

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the Association of Pool and Spa Professionals (APSP) are partnering for the agency's Pool Safely: Simple Steps Save Lives public safety campaign.

The partnership, announced at the International Pool, Spa, & Patio Expo in Las Vegas, includes APSP working with CPSC in 2010 and into 2011 to promote the Pool Safely campaign to the pool and spa industry. The campaign is designed to reduce the number of drowning, near-drowning, and entrapment incidents each year by.

APSP will work with its members and customers to make compliance with the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act and education priorities. This campaign is part of CPSC's national information and education program associated with the Act.

"The industry will be an important partner in delivering the campaign's safety message through its national network of pool and spa professionals," said Kathleen Reilly, CPSC's Pool Safely Campaign Leader. "We appreciate that APSP will use its role as an industry leader to help promote the Pool Safely campaign and make campaign materials and other resources available to its members and their customers."

Educational materials

APSP will provide Pool Safely materials at industry events, in publications, on industry videos, on its Website, and through social media channels, such as Facebook and Twitter. In addition, the group will develop a specific Pool Safely page within the "safety" section of its Website, where visitors can find information on the campaign and order campaign materials. Finally, it will incorporate Pool Safely messaging and materials into new safety videos for its industry members.

"The safe use of pools and spas is a priority for everyone, from companies that build and service pools, to facility management, to parents and individuals who enjoy the benefits of aquatic activities," said Bill Weber, President and CEO of APSP. "We're proud to partner with CPSC on the Pool Safely campaign and hope the combined efforts of CPSC with the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals, along with other organizations, will serve to focus attention on the importance of water safety to all stakeholders."

In the months leading up to the partnership announcement, the Pool Safely campaign released a series of print and broadcast Public Service Announcements (PSA) and a new educational video. The PSA and the video can be viewed YouTube. The campaign also debuted a new parent-child activity with tips about pooling safely; the activity can be played on the Pool Safely Website.

The Pool Safely campaign has partnered with other leading organizations, including American Red Cross, The YMCA of the USA, Safe Kids USA, National Drowning Prevention Alliance (NDPA), Home Safety Council, World Waterpark Association (WWA), Abbey's Hope, and the Association of Pool and Spa Professionals (APSP).

Feds, Industry Team Up To Push Pool Safety Pool and spa industry association to serve as information hub for industry and consumers ...

Summer Figures On Child Drownings Released

Little change found in swimming incidents during the summer of 2010

With kids across America heading back-to-school, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the Home Safety Council (HSC), a Pool Safely campaign partner, are releasing a snapshot on drowning incidents for the 2010 summer swimming season.

On average, more than 200 children younger than 15 drown in pools or spas between Memorial Day and Labor Day. This year, unfortunately, appears to have been no different.

The 2010 Pool Safely Summer Snapshot on Pool Safety in the United States indicates that at least 172 children younger than 15 have drowned since Memorial Day weekend, according to news reports collected nationwide. In addition, there have been more than 180 non-fatal incidents involving children in pools and spas, according to media accounts.

2010 Summer Snapshot

The more than 350 child drownings and non-fatal incidents since Memorial Day Weekend include:

• California 27 drownings; 15 non-fatal incidents;

• Florida 14 drownings; 19 non-fatal incidents;

• Arizona 9 drownings; 21 non-fatal incidents,

• Texas 12 drownings; 17 non-fatal incidents; and

• Ohio 10 drownings; 11 non-fatal incidents.

Staying safe

"Back to school does not mean the end of the swimming season. Many children in warm weather states have fun in the water all year," said Inez Tenenbaum, CPSC Chairman. "Far too many families have been impacted by child drownings this summer."

"Families with above or in-ground pools and spas must be vigilant about pool supervision, especially when there are children present," said Meri-K Appy, president of the non-profit Home Safety Council. "When a pool or spa is a part of your day-to-day life, it's easy to take for granted that your family members are following pool safety rules. Always have an adult actively watching whenever children are in or near the water."

In addition, Appy reminds families that the safest pools have four-sided fencing that blocks direct access from the home. Fences should have self-closing and self-latching gates.

Additional safety steps include pool alarms on doors leading from the home to the pool area, heavy-duty pool covers, as well as anti-entrapment safety drain covers.

According to Tenenbaum and Appy, being prepared means taking some steps such as having rescue equipment and a cordless phone poolside in case of emergency, and being trained means knowing how to do CPR and ensuring that children know how to swim.

This summer, the Pool Safely campaign released a series of public service announcements that remind the American public how to stay safe in and around pools and spas. The campaign also debuted a kids safety education program that includes an educational video and online activity to help parents teach children about danger spots in and around pools and spas.

Summer Figures On Child Drownings Released...

Drowning Season Opens; Pools a Major Menace to Children

Homeowners must be constantly vigilant, lawyers & safety experts warn

While public and private pools around the country are opening for the summer, a government report released this morning reveals that the number of children age five and younger comprises the largest percentage of pool and spa-related deaths and that that number is increasing.

Besides endangering children, pools are a major threat to the homeowner's financial well-being. An experienced personal injury lawyer said most pool owners are "sitting ducks" for a catastrophic lawsuit.

"A swimming pool is an accident waiting to happen and the homeowner is absolutely responsible for whatever tragedy occurs in that pool, even if it is someone who sneaks in at night and drowns," the lawyer said.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) report revealed that the average number of children under five drowning in pools and spas increased from 267 for the years 2002-2004 to 283 for the years 2003-2005. The majority of those drownings involved one- and two-year-olds and took place in residential settings, according to the report.

Alan Korn, director of public policy at Safe Kids USA, concurred. "Pool drownings are the second leading cause of death for children four and younger behind vehicle crashes. The most dangerous things we do to our children is put them in a car unbuckled and pop them in a pool unsupervised," he said.

Adults need to actively supervise, Korn said. "That does not mean looking over the top of the newspaper every few minutes or supervising while working the barbecue."

"Child drownings don't happen like they do in the movies. They don't scream for help and they don't splash around. They go under and you need to react." He said many children drown while their parents are sitting by the pool but aren't watching closely.

Korn also gave some gruesome details about entrapment. He said it comes in many forms including bodily, when a child and sometimes an adult cannot peel themselves off the pool's drain or get a limb or their hair stuck. Sometimes, if an individual is sitting on a drain, it can result in evisceration, in which the bowels are sucked out of the rectum. Finally, there is mechanical entrapment which occurs when a bathing suit or earing gets stuck in the drain.

CPSC numbers

The average number of deaths in pools and spas for people of all ages from 2003-2005 was 270. Only about a dozen of those deaths each year took place in spas, the CPSC report indicated.

The average number of serious injuries from pools and spas decreased slightly from 2,800 in 2004 to 2006 to 2,700 for 2005 to 2007. The injury numbers are more recent because of a lag in reporting fatalities, according to the report.

Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death to children ages one through four, according to a CPSC press release.

The tragedy of hundreds of children dying each year from accidental drowning and four times as many who are near-drowning victims with devastating injuries, is made even more painful by the knowledge that these types of accidents are preventable, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) said at a press conference at a public pool in Washington, D.C. this morning.

Parents should know that simple safety measures for their pool or spa could very well prevent their own child from being lost through such nightmare scenarios as accidental drowning or entrapment.

A new law effective December 19, 2008 requires all public pools and spas have safety drain covers, and in certain circumstances, an anti-entrapment system. Many children are sucked down, entrapped and seriously injured or drowned in drains whose covers break off or have been removed.

Between 1999 and 2007 there were 74 reported incidents involving entrapment, resulting in 9 deaths and 63 injuries, according to the report.

However, most child drownings are simply the result of no adult supervision, according to a CPSC press release.

Legal responsibility

Homeowners should be aware that having a pool subjects them to legal responsibility for deaths and injuries that occur in that pool.

Make no mistake, said one expert: the pool owner is responsible for what happens in his or her pool. The pool owner has an absolute responsibility to provide a safe environment for children and adults alike and to be pro-active in preventing accidents.

Experts recommend you not accept the responsibility of pool ownership unless you are aware of the risks and are willing to deal with them. At the most basic level, you and all able-bodied adults in your family should successfully complete a CPR course. Everyone in your household should learn to swim and be knowledgeable in pool safety.

Make sure your homeowner's insurance policy includes coverage that will protect you against liability lawsuits resulting from swimming pool injuries. You may want to add an additional liability policy specifically covering pool accidents. One million dollars is the absolute minimum you should have; more is desirable.

Don't rely on posting signs such as "swim at your own risk," "too shallow to dive", etc., to protect you against a lawsuit. Anyone who is injured in your pool, even if they are trespassing, may have the legal right to file a claim against you for any damages resulting from injuries received while in your pool.

These legal risks extend to small inflatable pools as well as in-ground units.

Layers of protection

The safety agency suggests pool owners adopt several layers of protection, including physical barriers, such as a fence completely surrounding the pool with self-closing, self-latching gates to prevent unsupervised access by young children. If the house forms a side of the barrier, use alarms on doors leading to the pool area and a power safety cover over the pool.

In addition, the agency provides these pool and spa safety tips:

• Since every second counts, always look for a missing child in the pool first. Precious time is often wasted looking for missing children anywhere but in the pool.

• Don't leave toys and floats in the pool that can attract young children and cause them to fall in the water when they reach for the items.

• Inspect pools and spas for missing or broken drain covers.

• Do not allow children in a pool or spa with missing or broken covers. Inserting an arm or leg into the opening can result in powerful suction and total body submersion and drowning.

• For above-ground and inflatable pools with ladders, remove or secure the ladder when the pool is not in use.

• It is important to always be prepared for an emergency by having rescue equipment and a phone near the pool. Parents should learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

Inflatable pools

The danger of drowning is not confined to large, in-ground pools. Small inflatable pools are also hazardous.

CPSC has reports of 17 drowning deaths involving inflatable pools in 2005, up from nine in 2004 and 10 in 2003.

Small inflatable pools, about 2 feet deep, can cost as little as $50, and larger pools, up to 4 feet deep and 18 feet wide, can cost under $200. These pools often fall outside of local building codes that require barriers, and may often be purchased by consumers without considering the barriers necessary to help protect young children from the dangers of pools.

CPSC said last year that its staff was working with the voluntary standards group ASTM International, consumer safety groups, retailers and inflatable pool manufacturers to develop safety standards for these products. There's no word on when those standards might be finalized.

Some local jurisdictions already require barriers for larger inflatable pools. For example, the state of New York requires fencing around any pool that is at least 2 feet deep.

"Parents need to understand any pool poses a drowning risk," former CPSC Chairman Hal Stratton said last year. "Consider the danger of water before investing in an inflatable pool."

Drowning Season Opens; Pools a Major Menace to Children...

Advice from a pool salesman

Here's some off-the-cuff advice on building a pool from a former top 15 salesmen for a national pool company.

The pool process can and will be the most infuriating process that you will ever go through. That is, if you build through a national company. The process starts like this. Call a few companies, get a few salespeople out and get some bids. Designers come out and you get to look an a few ideas. Remember, it's his time against your money.

I used to tell customers that they could have only two of the following three things -- time, quality, price, and which two did they want.

There are many things that go together to make your dream a reality. If you buy from a national company, please remember they are in business to make money. The only way they can do this at a price lower than the custom shop is with volume. This means one thing; it will take longer to get your pool built.

LOOK at your contract. Read the fine print. For every day it rains they get an additional 5 days build time added to the contract. Every day you delay a payment, they get an additional 5 days.

You think holding back money will get them to work harder? Think again. Contracts are generally written like this: 10% down, with the remaining balance paid out like this: 30% at dig, 35% at steel, 30% at gunnite, 5% at plaster.

Then you're swimming? So you think! Punch lists are done after plaster and they don't plaster until after they pick up that last check. Your problems will be fixed when we can get around to them. All our people are finishing up pools this time of year. What, we won't call back. We don't have time to talk, we're too busy.

My advice is that if you want to know what is going on with your pool, you get in your car and go to the pool's construction department and see the scheduler. What, there's no deck around your pool? We have 30 decks ahead of you right now. Out deck people can only do at best 4 decks a week. We can't pour concrete on wet ground, it will crack and we don't warranty decks. It's going to rain at least once every 2 weeks in the summer time allowing us to do mabey 12 decks a month, so right now you're 2 1/2 months out.

There are pool builders and pool companies. Pool builders charge more. Pool builders finish quicker. Pool builders give service after the sale. After you let a pool company build your pool you will understand cheaper is not better!

Advice from a pool salesman...

Swimming Pool Safety Guidelines

These pool safety guidelines were compiled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission

These pool safety guidelines were compiled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

Pools should have layers of protection to prevent drowning:

  • Fences and walls should be at least 4 feet high and installed completely around the pool. Fence gates should be self-closing and self-latching. The latch should be out of a small child's reach.
  • If your house forms one side of the barrier to the pool, then doors leading from the house to the pool should be protected with alarms that produce a sound when a door is unexpectedly opened.
  • A power safety cover -- a motor-powered barrier that can be placed over the water area -- can be used when the pool is not in use.
  • For above-ground pools, steps and ladders to the pool should be secured and locked, or removed when the pool is not in use.
  • If a child is missing, always look in the pool first. Seconds count in preventing death or disability. Keep rescue equipment by the pool, and be sure a phone is poolside with emergency numbers posted. You or someone in your household should know CPR.
  • Pool alarms can be used as an added precaution. Underwater pool alarms generally perform better and can be used in conjunction with pool covers. CPSC advises that consumers use remote alarm receivers so the alarm can be heard inside the house or in other places away from the pool area.

CPSC offers three free publications consumers can use to help prevent child drowning: "Safety Barrier Guidelines for Pools," "How to Plan for the Unexpected" and "Guidelines for Entrapment Hazards: Making Pools and Spas Safer." Some localities have incorporated the CPSC guidelines into their building codes and regulations.

Copies of these publications can be obtained on CPSC's website, or by writing to "Pool Safety", CPSC, Washington, D.C., 20207

Swimming Pool Safety Guidelines...