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Pool Safety Council
The Pool Safety Council (PSC) is a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit advocacy group dedicated to overall pool safety and, specifically, the prevention of child drowning nationwide. PSC boasts a diverse group of supports of more than one hundred pool safety experts and organizations, pool owners and operators, families of individuals impacted by pool-related injuries and leaders from the pool and equipment industries.
Our supporters are united in an effort to proactively educate consumers about overall pool safety and help protect children and the lives of others from swimming pool and spa tragedies. Any individual or organization that shares in the PSC mission may become a member of the Council. Like many non-profit organizations, the Pool Safety Council does not disclose information about its donors.
Drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death among children ages 1 to 14. They can drown in a variety of circumstances – during water recreation (such as swimming and boating) and can drown in as little as one inch of water. Contrary to popular belief, drowning is usually quick and silent. A child will lose consciousness two minutes after submersion, with irreversible brain damage occurring within four to six minutes. Through comprehensive published materials and PSC’s website (www.poolsafetycouncil.org), the Pool Safety Council works to provide parents, caregivers and pool operators with the information they need to understand the risks of drowning and know the steps they can take to protect all recreational bathers, utilizing what the Consumer Product Safety Commission calls “layers of protection.” PSC also actively follows and disseminates important information related to local, state and federal regulations related to swimming pool safety around the country.
After years of sustained efforts by many affiliated with the PSC, the Council was very pleased to see the passage and signage of the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act (VGB Act), an Act named for and supported by former Secretary of State James Baker. The risks of entrapment drowning were, and remain today, a relatively unknown risk for swimmers of all ages, especially children, posed by underwater drains or suction outlets of pools and spas.
While the Consumer Product Safety Commission was tasked with enforcement under the Act, inspection was delegated to state, county and municipal agencies. News reports and calls to PSC’s toll-free number indicated vast disparities in interpretation of the federal law and confusion surrounding the law’s requirements for public pools. This uncertainty led to two things: 1) widespread lack of implementation, putting swimmers at continued risk of entrapment; and 2) compliance efforts that were needlessly expensive, disruptive and environmentally damaging.
PSC began working to ensure that pool owners and operators, state and local public safety officials, the news media and individuals were aware of both the VGB Act’s existence and the various steps necessary to bring public pools and spas into compliance and to provide for the enhanced safety of all those using their facilities.
The Pool Safety Council has worked with a number of allied organizations, municipalities and lawmakers to promote VGB awareness, including Safe Kids USA and the National Drowning Prevention Alliance.
In March of 2009, PSC worked with Safe Kids USA to develop a joint guidance document outlining the requirements for public pools and spas to come into compliance with the VGB Act. The document was developed in an effort to correct inaccurate information circulating about the steps necessary to protect swimmers from the threat of drain entrapment. The Pool Safety Council’s predecessor (Pool Safety Consortium) and Safe Kids USA were two of the leading proponents of the creation and passage of the Pool and Spa Safety Act.
The Pool Safety Council has worked closely with a number of state officials nationwide to ensure the distribution of accurate guidance to ensure that the life-saving law can be both implemented and enforced. PSC also wants to ensure that pool operators have access to the most accurate and uniform information before they make what could be costly and needless modifications.
While there is still a great deal of work to do on this front, PSC has seen some early successes in California, Colorado, Texas, Florida and other states, leading to increased implementation and awareness – all of which can save lives.
The Pool Safety Council encourages the application of important “layers of protection” for all pools, both public and private, to provide for the utmost safety of all persons using these facilities. While not required, these recommended steps go beyond the installation of VGB Act-mandated approved safety drain covers and, on single drain pools, a secondary layer of protection such as a Safety Vacuum Release System (SVRS), automatic pump shut-off system, a gravity drainage system or suction limiting vent system.
These additional steps can include the installation of pool covers, alarms and four-sided fencing, all designed to avoid drowning tragedies and keep swimmers and recreational bathers safe.