The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is celebrating the 15-year anniversary of the passage of the Virginia Graeme Baker Act this December. This law, passed by Congress on December 19, 2007, created the Pool Safely public education campaign and provided for mandatory drain safety standards for public pools and spas. The act was named in memory of Virginia Graeme Baker. Baker was a 7-year-old-girl who drowned due to a spa drain entrapment. To commemorate the milestone of 15 years of the Virginia Graeme Baker Act, Pool Safely is sharing 5 water safety facts for families to keep in mind:
- Drowning Drain Entrapment Deaths Dropped 76% since passage of the VGBA.
Since the passage off the Virginia Graeme Baker Act drain entrapment deaths per year dropped 76%. With regulations on pool and spa drain equipment, more fatal and nonfatal drowning incidents were prevented.
- Drowning Is Still the Number 1 Cause of Death Among 1-4 Year Olds
Drowning remains the number one cause of death for children between the ages of 1-4 years old, with children ages 5-9 having the fifth highest drowning rates, according to CPSC data. This is a grim reminder of the importance of water safety, given the total number of drowning deaths per year continuing to rise.
- Nonfatal Child Drowning Injuries Are on the Rise
The latest CPSC data showed there was a 17% spike in pool- or spa-related, hospital emergency department-treated, nonfatal drowning injuries involving children younger than 15 years of age in 2021. The total number of injuries amounted to 6,800 people, compared to 5,800 in 2020. Pool Safely provides families with water safety and drowning prevention tips to help lower these numbers each year.
- CPSC Has Awarded Nearly $5 Million Through Pool Safety Grant Program
Since beginning the VGBA grant program in 2016, CPSC has awarded grantees a combined $4,651,814 to help further implement their enforcement and education programs to prevent drownings and drain entrapments. Pool Safely works in accordance with the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act to offer grant money to state and local governments through the Pool Safely Grant Program. This year CPSC awarded nearly $1.2 million in two-year grants to assist jurisdictions in reducing deaths and injuries from drowning and drain entrapment incidents in pools and spas.
- Racial Disparities in Drowning Rates High
Recent CPSC data has shown that Black children ages 5-14 account for 32% of nonfatal swimming pool and spa drowning incidents treated in emergency departments, compared to 15% of the population aged 5-14 that is Black. White children made up 61% of nonfatal pool and spa drownings treated in emergency departments (compared to 72% of the 5-14 aged population that is white).
One of the main causes of these disparities is the lack of swimming skills among children in each group. According to the USA Swimming Foundation, 64% of Black children, 45% of Hispanic children, and 40% of White children lack appropriate swimming skills (USA Swimming Foundation, 2017).
Pool Safely continues to work with collaborators, such as Diversity in Aquatics, the USA Swimming Foundation, Shawn Delifus Foundation, Black Swimming Association, and others to address these racial disparities in pool and spa drownings.
Pool Safely thanks everyone who helped pass the Virginia Graeme Baker Act 15 years ago. This law has taken us several steps closer to our goal of zero drowning deaths.
For more information and drowning prevention resources, visit https://www.poolsafely.gov/.
About PoolSafely.gov and CPSC
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of injury or death from thousands of types of consumer products under the agency’s jurisdiction. In addition to Pool and Spa Safety, the CPSC is committed to protecting consumers and families from products that pose a fire, electrical, chemical, or mechanical hazard.