One adult should be watching children in the pool or spa at all times. Even if there's a lifeguard. Even if the kids can swim. Pledge to use the Water Watchdog system to divide supervision responsibilities; pass on the Watchdog tags when you're ready to switch.
Record number of Minnesota drownings heightens importance of Drowning Prevention and Water Safety Awareness Month
Edina, Minnesota - May 1, 2013- Public pools begin opening Memorial Day weekend. Families start heading to the lake. And that fills some people-like Katey Taylor- with apprehension. In 2007, Katey and Scott Taylor's six-year-old daughter, Abbey, was disemboweled by a faulty pool drain and despite a live, intestine and pancreas transplant, died nine months later. The Taylors co-founded Abbey's Hope Charitable Foundation in their daughter's name, dedicating the organization to preventing drowning and entrapments and to keeping kids safe in the water. Yet, last summer, a record number of drownings occurred in Minnesota--in total, 39 non-boating related deaths. Nationwide, drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury-related death among children ages 14 and under. Significantly, approximately 800 children die from drowning each year. Drownings happen in open bodies of water, pools and spas.
"Despite the record number of tragedies last year, the good news is that every drowning and entrapment is completely preventable," says Katey Taylor. "As we head out for summer fun in the sun, it's vital for people to know the risks and be vigilant. A drowning or entrapment can happen in seconds, even when lifeguards or other caregivers are present."
"May is especially difficult for us," continues Ms. Taylor. "Abbey's birthday is in May; she would have been eleven on the 14th. May is also National Drowning Prevention and Water Safety Awareness Month. Drowning is still a leading cause of accidental death among children. We still have lots of work to do."
During Drowning Prevention and Water Safety Awareness Month, Abbey's Hope Charitable Foundation will be joining public health officials, law enforcement, emergency responders, government agencies and other non-profits to remind parents about critical safety tips that can mean the difference between life and death.
Parents can do their part in these four ways:
Teach swimming and lifesaving skills- Make sure children know how to swim, float, tread water and get in and out of the pool safely. Take classes in First Aid and CPR.
Install barriers- Backyard pools should be fenced on all sides with four-to-five foot high fence. Gates should be self-latching and locking. Spas and hot tubs should be covered and locked when not in use.
Be vigilant-Make sure an adult is watching children in the pool, spa and open bodies of water at all times.
Avoid dangerous drains- If loose, missing or broken drain covers are spotted, spa operators should be notified immediately. Tie up long hair or secure with a swim cap and warn children to stay away from drains or other openings.
The Taylors advocate that parents share water supervision responsibilities with other parents. Abbey's Hope created a "Water Watchdog Tag" system to clarify the role: the supervising parent or adult wears the "Water Watchdog Tag" until he or she passes the responsibility and the tag on the next parent or adult. (To receive a Water Watchdog, go to AbbeysHope.org and sign the pledge to protect children.)
The adult wearing the tag pledges:
- To maintain constant visual contact with the children in the designated group (even if a life guard is present)
- Not to drink alcohol, talk on the phone, socialize or read while watching children.
- To keep a phone near the water for emergency purposes.
- Remain by the water until relieved by a new Water Watchdog.
About Abbey’s Hope:
Abbey’s Hope Charitable Foundation is a Minnesota nonprofit organization named after Abbey Taylor, the Edina, Minn., 6-year-old who died in 2008 as a result of injuries sustained in an improperly maintained pool drain cover.
The Foundation’s goal is to:
- Promote awareness of and education related to child safety issues, including educating pool owners, operators, inspectors, and the general public about the dangers of pool entrapment, evisceration and drowning and the need for physical inspections of pool equipment.
- Work with the pool and spa industry to improve the design of its products, packaging and warning labels, and assist in the development of product safety standards related to such products.
- Identify and provide support and assistance to organizations and programs that help educate parents, children, and pool and spa manufacturers about the prevention of entrapment and traditional forms of drowning.
Find out more about Abbey’s Hope at http://abbeyshope.org.