The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) Pool Safely campaign and the Michael Phelps Foundation this weekhonored the 10th anniversary of the Michael Phelps Foundation and the 10 years since the passage of the Virginia Graeme Baker (VGB) Pool & Spa Safety Act with an event promoting water safety.
At this week’s event, CPSC’s Acting Chairman Ann Marie Buerkle and Michael Phelps delivered remarks about each organization’s decade milestone and the continued importance of water safety.
“As a result of the landmark VGB legislation, there have been zero drain entrapment-related deaths involving children in public pools and spas over the past decade,” said Acting Chairman Buerkle. “I’m honored to recognize this achievement, along with the achievements of the Michael Phelps Foundation and all our partners in the water safety community over the past 10 years. By working together, we will combat the public health crisis of fatal child drownings.”
“The progress our Foundation has made over the past decade is remarkable, but far too many children are drowning each year,” said Michael Phelps, President of the Michael Phelps Foundation. “We are proud to come together with Chairman Buerkle, Pool Safely, and other partner organizations to make a difference in the lives of children, helping them to learn how to have fun while being safer in and around the water.”
City of Peoria Mayor Cathy Carlat, along with Melissa Sutton, President of the Drowning Prevention Coalition of Arizona and the National Drowning Prevention Alliance, also gave remarks during the press conference lauding local and national water safety efforts while reinforcing the urgency of the issue.
Following the press conference, the organizations convened a water safety event that included a swimming lesson with children from the City of Peoria and a swim stroke clinic with participants in the Special Olympics of Arizona. Michael Phelps, joined by Cathy Bennett, Program Director for the Michael Phelps Foundation and the instructor who first taught Michael how to swim, and World Champion Swimmer and Michael Phelps Foundation Advisory Council Member Allison Schmitt, led in-water activities that highlighted the elements of the Foundation’s signature IM program.
After the in-water activities, participants joined more than 200 young swimmers from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Phoenix and Colorado River for a community water safety event featuring water safety activity stations. To kick off the community event, Michael Phelps led children in taking the Pool Safely Pledge, which asks children to affirm that they will: ask parents for swimming lessons, never swim alone, and always stay away from drains in pools and hot tubs. In addition to Pool Safely, Michael Phelps Foundation, and the City of Peoria, other water safety organizations at the community event included: CPR Party, Drowning Prevention Coalition of Arizona, JCMF Children’s Charities, National Drowning Prevention Alliance, ZAC Foundation, City of Peoria Fire-Medical Department and Peoria Firefighters Charities.
Drowning remains the leading cause of unintentional death for children ages one to four years old. An average of more than 350 children under the age of 15 die each year in drowning incidents. Parents and caregivers are encouraged to follow Pool Safely’s simple steps, which save lives around swimming pools and spas:
Install a four-sided fence with a self-closing, self-latching gate around all pools and spas.
Designate an adult Water Watcher to supervise children at all times around the water.
Learn how to swim, and teach children how to swim.
Learn how to perform CPR on children and adults.
Teach children to stay away from pool drains, pipes and other openings to avoid entrapments.
Ensure every pool or spa has drain covers that comply with federal safety standards.
To learn more about Pool Safely, or to Take the Pool Safely Pledge, please visit: www.poolsafely.gov.