With May coming quickly, you’re probably busy with last-minute preparations for the summer swim season. Nationwide hundreds, maybe thousands, also are preparing. Organizations and individuals are coming together, launching campaigns to promote water safety. Here’s a look at what’s going on and how you can still participate.
National Water Safety Month nationalwatersafetymonth.com
A joint effort of the American Red Cross (a new partner for 2011), Association of Pool & Spa Professionals, National Recreation and Park Association, and World Waterpark Association, May is National Water Safety Month.
This year’s event includes water safety fairs, official government proclamations, media coverage and public service announcements. A new Website features free downloadable resources, including posters, brochures and tips on hosting an event at your facility.
“On the site you can find simple steps for planning a water safety fair, and easy steps for planning a press conference to announce National Water Safety Month in your local community,” said Helen Bloch, manager, consumer safety and sponsorships, at APSP. “We also added a blog. ... Additionally, we will be continually enhancing the Web site and our Facebook page, with interactive games, surveys, videos, photos and more.”
Other participating organizations include the Master Pools Guild, the Florida Spa & Pool Association, the National Drowning Prevention Alliance and the National Swimming Pool Foundation.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s public information campaign associated with the VGBA is titled “Pool Safely: Simple Steps Save Lives.” Launched May, 24 2010, partners now include Abbey’s Hope, ARC, APSP, Home Safety Council, NDPA, Safe Kids USA, The Y, and WWA.
CPSC spokeswoman Kathleen Reilly said this year’s message is the same, but the reach continues to grow. “We don’t have a new look, but more information and more ways to get to people,” she noted. New mesaging tools include the introduction of two new cartoon characters, Splish and Splash, set to appear in three Web videos geared toward children; and a new “share your story” feature on the Website.
Tying into National Water Safety Month, the second week of the month is Pool Safely Week. “We’re partnering with the CPSC campaign to get out more of their materials and messaging,” Bloch said. Other partners are providing information for consumers and professionals.
“The NDPA got a contract from the CPSC to focus primarily on educating consumers on the Pool Safely campaign,” said Maureen Williams, communications manager, North America, at D&D Technologies (Huntington Beach, Calif.), and founding president of NDPA. “Part of our program is a Pool & Spa Safety Technician Training Program. Other key deliverables are a video and two PSAs.”
The Pool & Spa Safety Technician Training Program is designed to train aquatics professionals, public health employees and eventually any community member to conduct voluntary safety checks for residential pool owners. In addition, NDPA also is exhibiting at various shows and community events, and has developed a curriculum for nursery schools.
World’s Largest Swimming Lesson
The second annual World’s Largest Swimming Lesson is set for June 14, 2011. Worldwide, participants will unite in an attempt to set a new record. Last year’s inaugural event established the Guinness World Record for the largest simultaneous swimming lesson. It included 4,000 participants across 34 states and five countries.
But the larger goal is to promote the message that “swimming lessons save lives.“ The official headquarters will again be Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon waterpark in Florida. Organizers expect more participants in 2011, and facilities interested in serving as a host location have until May 20 to register for free at wlsl.org.
Olympic gold medalists Rowdy Gaines and Janet Evans are returning as the official spokespeople for the 2011 event.
Gaines will be master of ceremonies at Typhoon Lagoon.“Being part of The World’s Largest Swimming Lesson is a great honor for me,“ Gaines said. “I think of drowning as an epidemic in our country that doesn’t need to be. This is a great way to promote swimming lessons in general, and my hope this year is to be able to spread the message even more.”