It's not a surprising statistic to me. How much money has our Nation spent in the last 2 years with the whole VGB thing? Marketing, compliance and now enforcement? Entrapment claims a minimal amount of lives when you compare it to drownings....think of the great drowning prevention campaign that could occur if similar dollars were allocated and spent on drowning prevention like the VGB! Is it going to take a catastrophic event, like a senator's granddaughter drowning for our Nation to wake up to reality? I sure hope not! Perhaps the answer is to lobby for an addendum for the "pool and spa safety act" to include funding for education on drowning prevention as a whole, instead of focusing on one small facet of aquatic safety.
Just a thought.....

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I am from the state of Queensland in Australia.
Mandatory pool fencing laws which have been in place for over 20 years are in the process of being strengthened . .
For a country with a population of only 20 million people and 800,000 in ground swimming pools there is also a strong culture for SWIM SCHOOLS,and a part of that rationale is teaching toddlers to swim.
A friend of mine owns 12 dedicated franchised swim schools,and there are over 800 swim schools in Australia. .
I am not saying that Australia has the perfect answers in the regard to "child safety" around swimming pools,however we do adopt American recommendations on other matters like the VGB act,where we have limited expertise.
Great thoughts Terri, I refer to my blog of September 2nd...:

Am I the only one that finds it ironic that the federal government can pass anti-entrapment legislation that is costing commercial, public and semi-public pools across the U.S. millions but has never allocated adequate resources to the prevention of drowning? Don't get me wrong, I am all for anti-entrapment drain covers and other devices that will prevent this tradegy from occuring, but the last I heard was that about 7 people each year die from entrapment in the U.S. and if I recall correctly, Dateline reported a few years ago that almost 500 people per year drown in Lifeguarded pools.

Funny, I haven't heard much about the 90% of pools in America that are out of compliance with the VGBA lately. Maybe thats because summer is over or maybe its because there hasn't been a slow news day lately. Personally, I think it is because organizations like the Pool Safety Council (made up of safety consultants, anti-entrapment device retailers/manufactuers and a few others) are too busy getting their share of the 24 million dollars that is estimated to be spent on compliance with this half thought out legislation. Last time I checked, I don't need an anti-entrapment drain cover on my 12 foot deep pool with dual main drains, I just need to make sure the existing covers are secured and not flawed. 24 million dollars is a lot of money, I wonder if that estimate includes the money that the installers, certifying engineers and designers are making off of this.

In these tough fiscal times it is amazing to me that many pool operating agencies are being required to expend precious resources on this, especially when some of those pools don't need it. How about if the people making all of the money on this give a bundle of the cash back to help with swimming lesson programs in underserved socio-economically challenged communities across the country. Maybe they could give monies to public agencies that can't aford to have real layered protection that has active supervision where more than one guard is at work. How about our elected officials take other forms of drowning as seriously as they took this one? Our industry must get much more pro-active in the regulation standards that are being set for us, regulation without consultation is very dangerous and threatens truth, justice and the aquatic way!
Very well put. Probably, just like any other politically driven agenda in America, it will take people who really care about the prevention of aquatic related incidents to band together and make a stand. Letters to our Senators and Representatives asking for reallocation of funds towards education and additional distribution of funding towards swimming lesson programs will all aid in making more people aware of the importance of pursuing water safety and recreation as a life-long goal.
As always Jim, you are well spoken and right!! I thought it was sad that while Aquatics professionals across the nation were trying to get Congress to pass legislation which would delay the VGB implementation deadline, Congress had no trouble passing ANOTHER extension of the digital cable transition. Sure, let's make sure people can sit in front of their TV's and continue to contribute to the obesity epidemic when in reality people need to get off the couch and exercise . . . maybe in their local pool. Oh wait, they can't do that - their pool is closed because Congress failed to act to delay the VGB deadline. Here's to Truth, Justice and the Aquatics Way!
I believe that this issue is being looked at in the wrong way. In my opinion, the dominant reason for our ranking is our availability of facilities, and wealth as a nation. In many poorer countries, they simply do not have near as many swimming facilities, nor do they have the resources to take time out of their day for swimming. This coupled with the massive amount of people we have in this country, leads to a situation where many drownings will occur. Waterskiing, canoeing, and rafting are activities that people can participate in, in America. However, do to geographical and weather constraints, many nations do not even have a fraction the participation in outdoor water sports. The availability of swimming locations, coupled with the increasing demand Americans have of swimming as an exercise, and water sports as recreation, is certainly a huge contributor. It is also important to realize that you can't legislate drowning out of existence. I am all for promoting increasing water safety, but drownings happen. As individuals we can do our best to aid in prevention, but a peice of paper from Washington is not going to magically put and end to drownings.
So they don't waterski, canoe and raft in other countries? Those activities may not be a part of some nation's recreational actvities, but I assure you, many other countries have people that waterski, canoe and raft, and they even have pools. I wonder how many drownings take place on rivers, oceans and lakes of other countries that aren't reported? I am sure, just as here, the number would blow our minds. (And, we can't discount the number of people that drown in irrigation ditches, quarry pits, etc.)

I agree, a piece of paper won't end takes a tribe to raise a child. I don't think the issue is being looked at the wrong way at all, it is what it is. Obviously, there is enough International data to support the findings.

My point, as a Nation, we should be spending just as much (if not more) time, effort and money on the prevetion of drownings and aquatic safety as a whole as we have with the VGBA.
They do those things in other countries, but not to this extent. We are also the third most populous country in the world. When I say we are looking at this the wrong way, I simply mean that this statistic should not be shocking at all. What percent of children in China, or Turkey swim all the time during the summer? How many deep water aerobics programs does North Korea or Nigeria have? Are people in India or Guatamala spending their hard earned money on wave runners, and speed boats? Does Egypt or Rhodesia have even the amount of lakes that Minnasota has? The country with the highest rate of water based activities would be expected to have the highest amount of drownings, while still being able to have an overall lower general drowning rate. Every one involved in aquatics needs to do their own part at their own level. This can only be impacted by acting locally. Throwing money at the problem is not necessarily the answer. Parents need to step up and educate their children, or enter them in scouting or let them go to the local YMCA. In our system today, even the poorest children have access to reduced price or even free aquatics programs. Schools systems with pools often take a week or two of P.E to dedicate to swimming, and water safety. Physical Education classes, Volunteers, volunteer organizations, and parental influence are what we must utilize to lower the drowning rate, not Washington.
Terri, not to downplay drownings at all, but I bet you will find some answers in the way water deaths are complied here in the US. I do believe that in the US any death in the water is considered a drowning. So if a person in one of my water exercise classes has a massive heart attack in my pool, and dies, it will be put down as a drowning. We may be the only country that does this. Thus resulting in inflated numbers. I knew of a young man that was hit by a wave runner while swimming in a lake. He died and his death was ruled a drowning. Where would you put your dollars on preventing this? Boating Safety or Learn to Swim? He knew how to swim.

Also I agree that since we have more opportunities for water activities then our numbers will be up proportionally. It would be interesting, if not impossible, to see some numbers that correlate the amount of water activities that a country’s residents participate in and their drowning rates. If China has 1.3 Billion people but annually those people average 1.7 water activities per year and the US has 308 Million people who average 9 water activities per year, the US has a lot more “opportunity” for things to happen. You might find that the US is more on par with other countries, if not below them.

Here is some info I found out about the US and our Pools. (not 100% sure of its accuracy)

Number of Residential Inground Pools (as of year-end 2004): 4,544,000

Number of Residential Aboveground Pools: 3,535,000

Number of Residential Hot Tubs: 5,170,000

Number of Commercial Swimming Pools: 270,000

This stat is a lot like the "most car crashes will happen when you are within 2 miles of home" Duh? The odds are much better since home is where I drive to and from every day. That is like saying that I am more likely to be in a car crash in Texas than I am in South Dakota. I have never been to South Dakota.

But with all of that being said, the US still has an obscene amount of drownings each year.
Both really great points Kyle and Ryan. There is no doubt that in our Nation aquatic opportunities are plentiful. I still believe not enough money, effort and time is given to aquatic safety as a whole...not just one or two components, but a national unification to prevent drownings, whether it be in a pool, lake, river, irrigation ditch, etc.... Swim lessons cost money, psa's cost money, organizing volunteer efforts even cost money...... (in one form or another they do) I would just like to see the same energy spent on aquatic safety as a whole rather than just one small component..... Of course, I may be preaching to the choir.....
It's ok Terri..... you can bear your testimony..... he he he! :)


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