Advocacy Call to Action on Water Safety: How to Make Policy Makers Safety Lifeguards

water advocacy

Our new, breakthrough report, “Keeping Kids Safe In and Around Water,” provides tips for parents and caregivers to help dispel the misconceptions around water safety. There is an important tip in the report for public policy leaders and elected officials: you, too, are lifeguards for child water safety because smart laws and regulations can make swimming pools, both at home and at community pools safer.

Safe Kids Worldwide has a strong history in making policy changes when it comes to child water risks. We were deeply involved in passage of the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act, working with Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. The law set standards for pool drain covers, required the Consumer Product Safety Commission to conduct was has become the “Pool Safely Campaign” and a grant program that encourages states and local governments to pass stronger laws. And there’s some evidence that it’s working: there’s been an 11 percent decrease in pool deaths since 2010. 

The VGB Act is close to ten years old and, in our report, we thought it was timely to look at the next generation of policy changes which can make water even safer for our kids. One of the significant calls for action is for local governments to take action on drains and fences at home pools because the VGB act covers only public pools. States and cities can make significant changes by adopting the International Swimming Pool and Spa Code. Five states, Washington, DC and at least 48 localities have done so.

Second, one of the most impactful ways to prevent drownings, especially involving kids, is to enclose private home pools in effective barriers designed to prevent small children from accessing it. State and local laws should have laws requiring pool barriers.

Finally, your county or city should have an effective inspection process for pool safety—including physical safety measures and water quality—involving public pools. This should include pools at apartment and condominium complexes. Details of the last inspection should be available for all to see. 

In our report, which was made possible by Nationwide’s Make Safe Happen program, we make other recommendations for policy changes. We hope our tips for both parents and lawmakers will be helpful to keep all kids safer as they enjoy summer fun in water.