In its most recent initiatives to forward the cause of safeguarding people from drowning, especially small children, the National Drowning Prevention Alliance has reached out to related industries.
In fall, it hosted its first Childhood Drowning Research Summit, which joined experts such as pediatricians, university professionals, and organizational representatives to examine the state of drowning research in the United States.
The parties set two goals — to outline priorities for researching childhood drowning in the U.S. and foster collaboration between disciplines.
“A lot of our research studies on the interventions that work to prevent drowning ... have been out of Australia, New Zealand and some of the commonwealth countries,” said NDPA Executive Director Adam Katchmarchi (pictured). “That's not to say there isn’t active research in the U.S., but our goal is to really set a unified agenda for everyone to work toward.”
The group will develop a priority list of research topics to introduce in early 2023. Subjects fall under four categories: barriers, alarms and other access-prevention systems; supervision and lifeguarding; the use of flotation devices and lifejackets; and swimming lessons and water competency. Specific topics could include best ways to build water competency in young children, and the true effectiveness of various drowning-prevention devices and systems.
“We need to prioritize what research needs to be done in what order,” Katchmarchi said. “But we don’t have millions of dollars available. So we also have to look at it from a feasibility lens: What can we accomplish right now and what will take further time and advocacy to get funding?”
NDPA also recently expanded its Water Champion program, developed to provide all sectors that can contribute to drowning prevention with tools and resources to help in that work. When it launched last year, it began with the residential pool/spa industry. This year, NDPA expanded its program to include pediatricians and aquatics facility personnel.
Obviously, pediatricians play a key role in educating parents about their children’s health and safety, but they often don’t have time in an appointment to discuss drowning prevention. To help, NDPA has developed materials for these medical professionals to provide patients' parents.
For the aquatics industry, NDPA also is supplying materials, as well as attending professional conferences and conventions to speak with aquatics professionals.