Rep. Wasserman Schultz Announces $1 Million Grant For Pool Safety Awareness

By Ali Meyer | May 21, 2015 | 2:34 PM EDT

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) (AP Photo)

( - Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) and Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) Chairman Elliot Kaye announced a $1 million grant program for pool safety awareness at a Capitol Hill press conference on Thursday.

Under the
Pool Safely Grant Program (PSGP), state and local governments can apply for monies to support education and enforcement programs.

“The purpose of this program is to prevent the drowning and drain entrapments of children in pools and spas,” states CPSC. “The PSGP seeks to provide state and local governments with assistance to implement enforcement  and education programs to prevent the drowning and drain entrapment of children in pools and spas.”

“Today’s an important milestone that we’re announcing a $1 million dollar funding opportunity for state and local governments to significantly enhance their efforts in these areas,” said Kaye. “These funds for qualifying jurisdictions will go to both enforce the law in those jurisdictions, train employees and personnel in those jurisdictions and educate consumers about the importance of drowning prevention.”

The grant is authorized through the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act (VGB), named after seven-year-old Virginia Graeme, who died after being trapped underwater by the powerful suction from a hot tub drain in June 2002. Graeme was the daughter of Nancy and James Baker IV, the son of former Secretary of State James Baker III. After her death, her mother became an advocate for pool and spa safety.

Mrs. Baker and her family successfully lobbied Congress - with the help of Safe Kids Worldwide, a group dedicated to protecting kids from unintentional injuries - for a law that requires anti-entrapment drain covers and other safety devices. The statute, which was sponsored by Wasserman Schultz, was signed into law by in December 2007.

“And just to give you a few examples of the kinds of things we can do and that states and local governments can do around the country to make a difference on this issue,” said Wasserman Schultz, “we also authorized, as the chairman mentioned, a local and state incentive grant funding program - the first time the CPSC has administered a grant.

“I’m thrilled to be able to join them in announcing that solicitation for local governments and state governments to apply to that million dollars in grants, because often it is funding that is an obstacle for state and local governments to be able to actually go out and make sure they can raise awareness in their own local communities, that they can pass an ordinance, or promote an ordinance that they already have on the books and the CPSC’s work on administering these grants is going a long way towards helping us get the word out,” she said.

“A day at the pool should be a fun family activity and safe. Today’s statistics show that we still have a lot of work to do and are still losing too many of our children to preventable tragedies involving pools. As a mother of three, this issue is close to my heart. I hope all parents take time before summer begins to learn about common hazards, have a conversation with their kids, and take the appropriate measures to keep them safe around the pool,” Wasserman Schultz said.

“With Memorial Day weekend marking the traditional opening of pools in many communities, we urge parents to remember a simple message: If you prevent unattended pool and spa access, you prevent many children from drowning,” said Kaye. “As a parent of two young children myself, I have mixed feelings about heading into the summer months.  

“It is an exciting time with so many pools opening, but it is also a distressing time, as drowning continues to be the leading cause of unintentional death for children ages one to four. The most effective drowning prevention strategy is to cut off the access by completely surrounding pools and spas with fences that isolate the water from the house,” he added.

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