Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan announces swim safety program

Concord Journal

June 6, 2013

Evan MacDonald

Belmont --  Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan today launched a summer pool safety campaign and a partnership with four local pool companies to ensure that residential pools are safe for children this summer.

The Middlesex District Attorney’s Office has partnered with local pool companies to bring this safety message to families as they open their pools for the summer.  District Attorney Ryan launched the effort today at the Beede Swim and Fitness Center in Concord, a community swimming facility.

“This is a great time of year – the time of year when we clean up our yards, open up the swimming pool and head outside to enjoy the beautiful spring and summer weather,” District Attorney Ryan said.  “Unfortunately, this time of year can also have tragic results.  We must take precautions to keep our children safe from drowning, not only at our lakes and beaches, but in our backyards as well.”

The companies joining District Attorney Ryan in this effort are: South Shore Gunite of Chelmsford, Abramo Pool & Spa of Burlington, Aquatime Pool & Spa of Tyngsborough, and R&R Pool & Spa of Littleton.

The partnering companies all provide pool servicing, pool opening, and cleaning and maintenance for thousands of homeowners and commercial pools in Middlesex County.  As part of this initiative, each company will distribute a pool safety flyer at every location in which they service.

The District Attorney reminds homeowners to make sure their backyard swimming pools must comply with state and local regulations.  Massachusetts requires that residential swimming pools have: a 4-foot-high barrier must enclose the swimming area – even if you don't have children; access gates that self-close, lock, and open outward from the swimming area; opening/locking mechanism must be located 54 inches high or on the pool side of the gate; access ladders or steps should be removed, locked, or secured to prevent usage by children. Contact your city or town hall for additional requirements.

The “Splash into a Safe Swim Season” campaign also includes printed materials distributed to Middlesex County YMCAs, hospitals, and community organizations and an informative website feature with tips and helpful statistics for parents.  This water safety initiative was developed based on the results of the Middlesex Child Fatality Review Team, which studies causes of child fatalities and deemed water safety education as a necessary tool to prevent fatalities or injuries.

Each year, there are 3,500 fatal, unintentional drownings in the United States, averaging 10 per day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Of these, one in five is a child under the age of 14. 

Compounding these troubling statistics is the fact that, for every child who dies from drowning, four received emergency care for nonfatal submersion injuries.  Of the estimated 5,000 children hospitalized each year due to unintentional drowning related incidents, 15 percent die in the hospital and 20 percent are left with permanent brain damage.  Of all the preschoolers who drown, a staggering 70 percent are in the care of parents at the time, and 75 percent are out of sight for just five minutes or less. 

District Attorney Ryan reminds homeowners that it t takes just 20 seconds in as little as two to three inches of water for a child to drown. Landscaped water features and koi ponds are also safety hazards for children.

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