Wasserman Schultz, Swim Safety Advocates Dive In on New National Water Safety Action Plan
Drowning is a vital, yet often ignored public health issue, and the U.S. desperately needs a National Water Safety Action Plan. This blueprint finally answers the long, overdue call of the World Health Organization, and is our collective call to action. We each have a role to play in implementing it in the next decade. I stand ready to work with the USNWSAP Steering Committee and the working groups to develop and implement the policies necessary to realize it, and more importantly, to save thousands of lives.
Washington D.C. – As the summer heat pushes more Americans to cool waters, drowning deaths remain the leading killer of very young children, so U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-25) recently convened national drowning prevention leaders to unveil the release of a new United States National Water Safety Action Plan (USNWSAP) in a briefing with key stakeholders from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), Safe Kids Worldwide, USA Swimming, and more.
This high-level briefing and unveiling highlighted the critical need for the United States to prioritize water safety and drowning prevention in a comprehensive and collaborative manner, said Wasserman Schultz. The full plan is available here.
“Drowning is a vital, yet often ignored public health issue, and the U.S. desperately needs a National Water Safety Action Plan,” said Wasserman Schultz. “This blueprint finally answers the long, overdue call of the World Health Organization, and is our collective call to action. We each have a role to play in implementing it in the next decade. I stand ready to work with the USNWSAP Steering Committee and the working groups to develop and implement the policies necessary to realize it, and more importantly, to save thousands of lives.”
The USNWSAP is a national roadmap for collective action to reduce drowning. It provides a framework and tools to support the development and implementation of data- and evidence-informed water safety action plans in communities, counties, and states nationwide – and strategies to ensure they are adopted and supported.
The Plan provides a guide for aquatic and public health and safety professionals, policymakers, researchers, advocates, families, manufacturers, and other partners in the water safety community who can act to prevent drowning. It lays out America’s response to a World Health Organization call for member states to develop national action plans, and acknowledges the need for more national, state, county, and community levels coordination across diverse waterscapes.
The Plan increases available data to inform prevention and puts research into action. The USNWSAP covers a 10-year period from 2023 to 2032, and calls for coordinated implementation of drowning prevention activities in these key areas:
1. Barriers, Entrapment, and Electrical Safety (BEE) – increase the use of pool fencing, alarms, and emerging technologies to reduce unsupervised access to water, and employ measures to reduce entrapment and electrocution.
2. Data and Public Health Surveillance (DS) – develop comprehensive drowning data surveillance to inform prevention of fatal and nonfatal drownings, better identify risk groups, and develop and monitor data-driven prevention interventions.
3. Life Jackets, Personal Flotation Devices, and Other Flotation (LJ) – increase the use of U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets by boaters, and those recreating in or near the water.
4. Rescue and CPR (Res CPR) – promote and improve rescue and resuscitation of the drowning victim by laypersons, lifeguards, and EMS personnel.
5. Lifeguards and Supervision (LG SUP) – improve protection and supervision by parents, group leaders, and lifeguards of those in and near all types of open water, pools, and around the home.
6. Water Safety, Water Competency and Swimming Lessons (WSWC) – enhance water safety, water competency, and swimming lessons with a particular focus on reducing existing inequities.
The USNWSAP also makes the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act (VGB) a key component of the recommendations to prevent entrapments. Last week, Rep. Wasserman Schultz reintroduced the VGB Reauthorization Act. Read more about that legislation here.
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