June 20, 2017

Partner Spotlight: Interview with Megan Ferraro, Executive Director of The ZAC Foundation

Tell me a little bit about your organization and how long have you been a Pool Safely campaign partner? 

a young boy on a boat wearing a life vest.

Zachary Archer Cohn, age 6.

In 2008, Karen and Brian Cohn founded The ZAC Foundation in honor of their six-year- old son Zachary Archer Cohn, who passed away after his arm became entrapped by the powerful suction drain in his backyard swimming pool. Our mission is to prepare children and families for a lifetime of water safety. We have been a Pool Safely partner since summer 2016.

What is the most useful/your favorite Pool Safely resource?

The focus that the CPSC chairman and commissioners have on water safety is our favorite Pool Safely resource. We have been fortunate enough to host both then-CPSC Chairmen Inez Tenenbaum and Elliot Kaye at The ZAC Foundation events, and we look forward to collaborating with Acting Chairman Buerkle this year and beyond.

two women standing in front of a big pool safely banner.

Zachary’s mother and ZAC Foundation founder Karen Cohn with former CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum.

a man puts a medal around a childs neck.

CPSC Commissioner Elliot Kaye awards a ZAC Camp participant a medal.

What water safety steps or messages do you think are the most important for keeping kids safer in and around the water?

Through our programming and colorful book, The Polar Bear Who Couldn’t, Wouldn’t Swim, we teach the ABC&D’s of water safety:

  • cover of a book titled The Polar Bear Who Couldn't Wouldn't Swim.A is for Adults – Adults must always have their eyes on children near and in the water, and never be engaged in other distracting activities (like smart devices, gardening or housework) while on watch.
  • B is for Barriers – Barriers keep children away from water dangers. Barriers like four-sided fences, door alarms and locks and gates keep swimmers safe.
  • C is for Classes – Kids and adults should take safety classes. We recommend classes such as swimming, water safety, CPR and first-aid.
  • D is for Drains – All swimmers should be taught to stay away from pool and spa drains. If a drain cover becomes loose or falls off, the pool should be closed immediately and no one should enter until it is repaired.

For more water safety tips, visit our website here.

How has your organization made a difference among consumers when it comes to drowning prevention?

Our Foundation has educated more than 10,000 children through our signature water safety programming called ZAC Camps – and millions more through media coverage of our activities. By partnering with organizations such as Time for Kids, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, American Red Cross and Pool Safely, we raise awareness and educate children, parents, caregivers, community leaders and legislators about pool safety.

Campers in a gym for Water safety.

Participants at a summer 2016 ZAC Camp pose for a group photo with the Polar Bear Who Couldn’t Swim.

We also engage children and families through new programming initiatives such as our drain entrapment video and by funding grants with regional non-profits across the country.

Why do you think it is beneficial to partner with CPSC and the Pool Safely campaign?

Given that drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death for children ages 1 – 4 and the second leading cause of unintentional death for children ages 1 – 14, Pool Safely’s involvement is critical to ensure accountability across the pool industry.  CPSC ensures that, if necessary, pool parts (like pumps and drain covers) are recalled and convenes partners from across the country to ensure that important life-saving messages are shared through the Pool Safely campaign.