How You Can Help Prevent Child Drownings

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WASHINGTON -- Two parents who lost their child in a horrifying accident have come to Capitol Hill to celebrate a new law that could save other children from similar accidents.

Scott and Katey Taylor's daughter, Abigail, was eviscerated when her body was sucked up against a powerful drain in a wading pool at the Minneapolis Golf Club in 2006.

She lived long enough to ask her parents to take action so other children wouldn't face a fate like hers.

Here's a girl who had just been eviscerated and had an incision from sternum to her waist, and she was more concerned about making sure this didn't happen to anybody else," Scott Taylor said at a Capitol Hill news conference.

Anti-Entrapment Devices Now Mandated

The Taylors began an all-out effort to get Congress to pass a law that mandates anti-entrapment devices over drains in public pools and spas.

Their senator and friend, Minnesota Democrat Amy Klobaucher, helped push that law into fruition.

"Both Scott and Katey have made it their life's work now to make sure that other parents know the risk, but also to make sure that this law gets implemented so this never happens to another child again," she said.

In the last 10 years, 11 children died and 69 were injured when sucked up against and trapped by drains in pools or spas.

Nearly 300 Little Ones Drown Every Year

But that's just a fraction of the children killed or hurt in water-related accidents. Nearly 300 children younger than age five drown every year. 3,000 more are injured badly enough to require a trip to the emergency room.

Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz also championed that legislation the Taylors pushed.

"We have far too many accidents, far too many deaths, and beyond the deaths, we have four times as many near-drowning incidents," she explained. "And the health care costs that are associated with those near-drowning incidents are just astronomical."

She and others at this news conference held as the summer season begins said these accidents can all be prevented. The main way is for adults around children in or near the water to practice constant vigilance.

No Excuses Vigilance

"You can never take your eyes off of a young child when they are near a body of water, whether it is a swimming pool or a lake," Schultz continued. "It is not okay to answer the phone. It is not okay to answer the doorbell or switch the clothes from the washer to the dryer. You must remain vigilant and keep your eyes on that child."

Alan Korn, the public policy director for Safe Kids USA, added, "That does not mean occasionally looking over the top of your book or your barbecue pit to check on your children in the pool."

"That means standing by the pool and spa and watching them every second they're in there," he said.

Nancy Nord of the Consumer Product Safety Commission pointed out all the tips you need for water safety can be found at one CPSC website, Pool Safety.gov.

She said at the website pool and spa owners will find out not just what they need to do and have in the water for protection, but also outside the water.

For instave, "They need to have fences with gates that are self-latching and self-locking, door alarms, pool alarms," Nord said.

These safety officials showed the kinds of flat drains that allow a strong suction capable of entrapping children, and those that are safe.

Korn explained, "A safe drain cover is engineered differently. And it's dome-shaped and it keeps that entrapment from happening in the first place."

What You Need to Know

Korn praised the new legislation mandating anti-entrapment devices, but says it's now up to the public to make sure public pools and spas get them. He recommended people go to the Consumer Product Safety Commission's PoolSafety.gov Web site.

"The CPSC website has a list of all the important safety devices, drain covers and safety vacuum release systems that are important to put on all pools, he said. "So we do urge parents to know those visuals, ask pool and spa operators about them, and make sure that the pool and spa owners and operators are compliant."

*Originally aired May 26, 2009. 

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Paul  Strand

Paul Strand

CBN News Washington Sr. Correspondent

As senior correspondent in CBN's Washington, D.C., bureau, Paul Strand has covered a variety of political and social issues, with an emphasis on defense, justice, and Congress.  Follow Paul on Twitter @PaulStrandCBN and "like" him at Facebook.com/PaulStrandCBN.