A number of industry groups recently were awarded millions of dollars in federal contracts to provide training and education on drowning prevention, as well as swimming pool and spa safety.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission last month provided funding to the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals ($363,760), the Northeast Spa & Pool Association ($239,151), the National Drowning Prevention Alliance ($1,286,100) and Safe Kids Worldwide ($559,931) among others, for various programs to be administered nationwide over the next year under the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act.

“The contracts extend the reach of the Pool Safely campaign to educate and inform the public about pool and spa safety and enhance compliance with section 1404,” said Kathleen Reilly CPSC public affairs specialist. 

The National Swimming Pool Foundation, working in concert with contract recipient Erica Lane Enterprises, already has conducted the first safety event, which was geared toward public health inspectors, pool and spa operators, aquatic facility managers and the media.

Held during the World Aquatic Health Conference in Colorado Springs, Colo., in early October, the three-hour course consisted of training, education materials, and a Q&A session with a CPSC representative. Topics included an overview of the VGB Act, the five types of entrapment, suction outlets, understanding flow rates, and VGB compliance.

Many other programming details still must be hammered out and coordinated between the various organizations and CPSC, officials said. However, some specifics have begun to emerge.

The NDPA, for instance, will divide its curriculum between a national media campaign (outreach, PSAs, a training video, etc.) aimed at both consumers and the pool industry, and a certification program for residential pool and spa safety technicians, according to NDPA spokeswoman Maureen Williams. The techs, when requested, would provide homeowners with information on drowning-prevention and general backyard safety, Williams said.

For its part Safe Kids USA plans initiatives on the state and local levels. According to Tanya Chin Ross, Safe Kids’ director, public policy, activities are likely to include:

  • Coalition-based grants (pilot grants to conduct residential pool inspections, grants to facilitate the distribution of rapid response kits, and grants to enable educational training).
  • Development and distribution of educational materials and associated safety equipment.
  • Public education and media outreach.

“Safe Kids is excited to be a recipient of a pool and spa safety contract,” said Ross. “As Safe Kids has a long history with the CPSC and the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act, we feel fortunate to continue our work to bring awareness to this law along with promoting other pool and safety messages.”

Meantime, the APSP and NESPA will offer VGB training and information to health and building code officials, pool operators and lifeguards, officials said.