According to Safe Kids Worldwide, a coalition that aims to prevent injuries to children, drowning is the second-largest cause of accidental death among youngsters. In 2003 alone, the latest year for which statistics are available, 285 children drowned in U.S. swimming pools.
Proposed Federal Legislation to Promote Safer Pools
To help curb drownings, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., will introduce legislation next week providing incentives to states that require safety features in pools and hot tubs. Under the bill, states would receive federal grant money if they require multiple drains with covers that prevent entrapment, vacuum systems with automated stop features when blocked, and fences surrounding all pools and spas. The timing of the legislation being introduced coordinates with Safe Kids Week.
James A. Baker, III, Secretary of State under former President George Bush is publicly supporting the legislation. His granddaughter, 7-year-old Virginia Graeme Baker, drowned in a backyard hot tub, dragged to the bottom by the powerful suction of the spa’s drain.
"Our hearts were really broken," said Baker, stifling back tears. "Her short life provided us with a treasured love that we can never, never replace." Secretary Baker spoke publicly for the first time about his granddaughter at the National Safe Kids Week kick-off event at the U.S. Capitol Reflecting Pool. “We hope Graeme’s story and the passage of this new legislation will help save lives.”
"I’m here to do what I can to help see that other families are spared the devastation and the pain that can be prevented by a few very simple steps," Baker said.
Entrapment Deaths Not Uncommon
And deaths like Virginia Baker’s aren’t all that rare. From 1985 to 2004, there were at least 33 documented drownings in the United States attributed to drain entrapment, as well as hundreds of injuries, the group Safe Kids Worldwide reported.