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CPSC Warns about Pool Hazards, Reports 250 Deaths of Young Children Annually

Federal Agency Launches Drowning Prevention Initiative, Holding Public Hearings

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) today is launching a drowning prevention campaign as part of an intensified initiative to prevent the tragic drowning of 250 children under the age of 5 annually in swimming pools. Among unintentional injuries, drowning has been the second leading cause of death to children under age 5, after motor vehicle incidents. In 2002, an estimated 1,600 children were treated in hospital emergency rooms for submersion injuries. Many of these deaths and injuries occur in residential pools.

"That so many young children drown each year is devastating," said CPSC Chairman Hal Stratton."Each of these deaths is not only the pointless end of a promising life, but an overwhelming grief for the family that goes on for years and years. As a father, I cannot imagine having to endure the pain of such a loss."

Reducing the rate of drowning deaths is one of CPSC's strategic goals. To help achieve this goal, CPSC is holding two public hearings to explore strategies to prevent drowning deaths. The first public hearing will take place in Tampa, Fla., on June 21, 2004, and the second hearing will be in Phoenix, Ariz. on July 27, 2004. "We want to find new solutions and try to create new awareness about this hazard," Stratton said.

Additionally, CPSC is broadcasting a video news release nationwide to promote pool safety, CPSC field staff is participating in local pool safety events, and the agency is promoting drowning prevention on its Web site at

One of the most tragic aspects of drowning deaths is that they are preventable, but there is no foolproof method of prevention. CPSC recommends using layers of protection. This includes, constant supervision of young children; placing barriers such as a fence with a self-closing, self-latching gate around your pool to prevent access; and being prepared in case of an emergency.

"We believe that using multiple layers of protections can prevent many of these deaths, but still too many children are dying," Stratton said. "We are conducting these public meetings to find out what has worked around the nation."

With Memorial Day coming and many people readying their pools for the summer, now is the time to redouble efforts to prevent drowning deaths. Many of the swimming pool deaths occur in summer months.

Close supervision of young children is vital for families with a home pool -- and not just when outside using the pool. A common scenario is that young children leave the house without a parent or caregiver realizing it. Children are drawn to water, not knowing the terrible danger pools can pose. Also, just because children know how to swim, doesn't mean they are safe. All children should be supervised every second while in and around the pool.

The commission offers these additional tips to prevent drowning:

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