Water Safety USA

 

Water Safety USA LogoWhat is Water Safety USA?

Water Safety USA is a roundtable of equals composed of longstanding national nonprofit and governmental organizations with a strong record of providing drowning prevention and water safety programs, including public education.

Why was Water Safety USA Formed? 

In February 2014 a consortium of leading national governmental and nongovernmental organizations with a strong record of providing drowning prevention and water safety programs, including public education, established Water Safety USA. Its mission is to empower people with resources, information, and tools to safely enjoy and benefit from our nation's aquatic environments. The overarching approach of Water Safety USA is to engage in ongoing dialog aimed at improving our aggregate delivery of water safety information, tools and resources such that they are as effective as possible. 

The founding members of Water Safety USA* have combined forces to leverage their individual and collective expertise and to draw upon and support efforts of other organizations with similar goals. Water Safety USA is a roundtable of equals. Each member offers valuable water safety and drowning prevention input and activities. Through alignment and mutual support of initiatives championed (and driven) by members, it is expected that the incidence of drowning will be reduced more expeditiously than were we to work in isolation.

The members of Water Safety USA believe that identification of evidence-based strategies to promote water safety and the use of consistent, evidence-based wording of water safety messages are key to reduce the incidence of drowning. Conversely, conflicting strategies and messages, however well-intentioned, may create public confusion. In addition, the members of Water Safety USA believe that the collection and analysis of reliable, standardized data (e.g., circumstances of drowning events, swim skill of victims and population, effectiveness and reach of program efforts) will assist in development and more effective targeting of prevention programs and strategies. We also believe that by working together our combined strength will lead to increased impact and effectiveness of our prevention efforts. 

The long-term goal of Water Safety USA is to reduce drowning and promote water safety in the United States. By working collectively and collaboratively, while retaining our individual identities, we further our distinct objectives and promote our shared goals to ultimately maximize our effectiveness. The members of Water Safety USA will meet on a regular basis to share strategies and focus attention on the most pressing issues identified.

*The founding members of Water Safety USA are:

American Academy of Pediatrics

American Red Cross

Boy Scouts of America

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

National Park Service

National Safe Boating Council

National Swimming Pool Foundation

Safe Kids Worldwide

U.S. Coast Guard

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

United States Lifesaving Association

USA Swimming Foundation

YMCA of the USA

Seven percent of the territory of the 50 United States is covered in water and there are nearly 11 million swimming pools nationwide.    Each year, hundreds of millions of people visit natural and human-made aquatic venues to swim, boat, surf, dive, fish, and engage in many other activities for both work and play. At home they use bathtubs, pools, and spas. The vast majority do so without injury; however, in some cases, unintentional injuries like drowning can result. 

Drowning, the process of experiencing respiratory impairment from submersion/immersion in liquid,  is a significant public health issue. Every year in the United States there are nearly 5,800 trips to emergency rooms and more than 3,800 deaths due to drowning.3 However, drowning death is under-reported as drowning victims sometimes survive for extended periods after which their cause of death may be attributed to other medical complications initiated by the drowning process. Half of non-fatal emergency room visits related to drowning require hospitalization or transfer to a higher level of care, compared to 6% for all unintentional injuries combined.3 Nonfatal drowning injuries can sometimes result in severe brain damage with life-long consequences. 

Fortunately, not every drowning event results in injury or death. The process can be interrupted if people are able to rescue themselves or are rescued by others. For example US lifeguards report more than 60,000 rescues from drowning at beaches each year.  The good news is drowning is preventable in most instances. Prevention strategies include learning to swim, closely supervising children when in or near water, swimming in areas protected by lifeguards, wearing a life jacket, practicing safe boating, placing effective barriers around swimming pools, and avoiding alcohol consumption when near the water. There are also methods to prepare to intervene safely, like learning CPR and how to rescue others without placing yourself at risk.

Who Can I Contact for More Information on Water Safety USA?

American Academy of Pediatrics— Manager, Council on Injury, Violence, and Poison Prevention, Bonnie Kozial

American Red Cross—Don Lauritzen

Boy Scouts of America— Outdoor Programs/Properties Department Manager, Keith Christopher

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention— duipinquiries@cdc.gov

National Park Service— No POC currently

National Safe Boating Council—Rachel Johnson

National Swimming Pool Foundation— PR Specialist, CJ Martin

Safe Kids Worldwide— Director of Programs, Tareka Wheeler

U.S. Coast Guard— For individual contacts please visit USCG website

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission— Pool Safely Campaign Leader, Ellyn Pollack

United States Lifesaving Association— Liaison Officer, B. Chris Brewster

USA Swimming Foundation— Program Manager, Tina Dessart

YMCA of the USA— Kevin Dietz

To Learn More

To find out more about Water Safety USA, please visit the new website: watersafetyusa.org.

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[1] http://water.usgs.gov/edu/wetstates.html

[1] http://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/swimming

[1]http://www.who.int/violence_injury_prevention/other_injury/drowning/en/

[1]http://www.usla.org/statistics