A Virginia woman whose 7-year-old daughter drowned when she became stuck at the bottom of a spa was one of several people who testified before members of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission on Tuesday in Phoenix.
The commission was in town on a fact-finding mission, said chairman Hal Stratton.
"We want to come up with as many ideas as we can to prevent drownings, particularly of children," Stratton said.
An average 250 children under 5 drown every year in the U.S., Stratton said.
The commission hopes to find ways to lower those numbers by improving pool safety guidelines and forwarding those guidelines to the pool and spa industry, Stratton said.
Nancy Baker, whose daughter, Graeme, died in June 2002, offered her input along with Phoenix-area firefighters, hospital representatives, pool companies and various organizations such as Swimkids USA and Water Watchers.
Baker urged the commission to do whatever it can to force the pool and spa industry to install vacuum release safety devices. Such devices automatically shut down a pool or spa’s filter if it senses an additional drag on the system.
It took two grown men to pull her daughter from the spa, Baker said.
"You have the power to save lives. Please don’t sit idly by and continue to let innocent children die," Baker said.
Phoenix and Tucson fire officials spoke of the need for parental supervision, foursided pool fencing and continued education efforts.
Most residential drownings would be eliminated if the state had one pool fence ordinance, instead of varying city ordinances, said Phoenix Fire Department assistant chief Bob Khan.
Tucson Fire Department deputy chief Randy Ogden stressed the need for CPR training, water safety courses, pool-side phones and designated child watchers at social gatherings.
As for products, firefighters have yet to find a pool alarm system that works consistently, Ogden said. Pool covers aren’t always effective either.