Warmer weather means the resurgence of BBQs, camps and outdoor activities such as swimming. Not only does May typically mark the start of pool season, it’s also National Water Safety Month, a campaign created by the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals to raise awareness about water safety.
This time of year serves as a reminder to swimmers, parents and pool owners everywhere of the importance of water safety. Pool cleaning and maintenance franchise company Pool Scouts is working to educate parents about how to keep kids safe around pools and water in general.
Water safety is a topic not discussed often enough. In fact, According to the CDC, drowning is the number one cause of death in children ages 1- to 4-years-old and the second leading cause of death in children ages 1- to 14-years-old.
To increase efforts around the promotion of safety, Pool Scouts kicked off 2019 by announcing a new corporate charitable partnership with the USA Swimming Foundation, the philanthropic arm of USA Swimming. The announcement was made via video conference during the annual Pool Scouts convention with Olympic silver medalist and USA Swimming Foundation Ambassador, Elizabeth Beisel. Established in 2004, the USA Swimming Foundation works to strengthen the sport by saving lives and building champions— in the pool and in life.
“Our concept continues to grow, with 43 territories sold in our first two years,” said Michael Wagner, President of Pool Scouts. “As we continue to enter new markets nationwide, it’s very important for us to ensure that our staff and franchisees are properly trained on pool cleaning and maintenance as they work locally to protect the communities we serve. This also includes sharing best practices and educating each of our customers. National Water Safety Month is a reminder of the importance around water safety education, but something we continue to highlight year-round.”
For one week during National Water Safety Month, Pool Scouts plans to dedicate 5% of sales across 90% of locations to the USA Swimming Foundation, in an effort to help fund swim lessons for children who may not otherwise have access.
USA Swimming Foundation Executive Director Debbie Hesse shared her appreciation: “We are thrilled to team up with Pool Scouts, which shares our vision and dedication to providing water safety education to swimmers across the country. Having these additional supporters out in the community, spreading information and gathering funds, is critical to making a lasting difference.”
One of the locations heavily involved in donation efforts this month includes Pool Scouts of Memphis, Tennessee. Husband-and-wife duo Jake and Kinsey McCutchen are pool owners in their own right, as well as the parents of three young children. They, along with many other Pool Scouts franchisees, plan to connect with residents in their local community throughout the month to provide educational programming, share tips and advice through their social media channels and ensure swimmers in the area understand the importance of being prepared prior to entering the water.
“As parents of three young boys, in addition to being pool owners ourselves, water safety is incredibly important to us,” said Kinsey McCutchen. “The USA Swimming Foundation is planning to host events in Memphis at the end of this month and we plan to work closely with them surrounding these initiatives. In addition, we are working in conjunction with a local child water safety instructor to develop educational videos and tips for parents and swimmers.”
McCutchen also noted a specific case of a child from Tennessee who tragically drowned in the summer of 2018. Levi Hughes was just 3 years old when he accidentally found himself alone in a pool during a family vacation in Alabama. Within seconds, his mother Nicole Hughes spotted him and ran down to get him out, but unfortunately it was too late.
“It’s just awful,” said McCutchen. “You truly feel for any parent that goes through something like that. We have been in contact with Nicole as her and her family have also continued to make water education a priority. She is working with us to provide additional tips and resources that we can share with residents in the Memphis area in an effort to prevent potential accidents. It truly is a matter of seconds between life and death in these situations. The better prepared we can make parents, the better chance they will have in keeping their kids safe while in the water.”
Pool Scouts’ Director of Marketing Gwen Marsh shared that there are some very simple tips everyone should be aware of surrounding water safety.
“Enroll your child in formal swimming lessons at an early age,” said Marsh. “Formal swimming classes can decrease the risk of drowning for children 1-4 by as much as 88%. In terms of the pool area itself, be sure to secure it by installing structures such as fences and self-closing and latching gates that open away from the pool. Each state has different regulations, so be sure to research proper measures in order to remain compliant with state safety laws.
It’s also important to post rules and safety signs around the pool area. This includes making the address of the pool visible should an emergency arise and 911 needs to be called.”
Marsh also emphasized the importance of proper safety around flotation devices, including the storing of these items out of reach of children and keeping a first aid kit equipped with scissors on-hand, should hair or clothing become caught.
To prepare for the warm summer months, pool owners, parents and swimmers of all backgrounds can visit https://poolscouts.com/water-safety/, https://www.usaswimmingfoundation.org/ or http://www.nationalwatersafetymonth.org/ to learn more on water safety.