News Department

As summer begins, Gottheimer announces new ‘Safe Swimming Strategy’

Boost Pool Safety and Prevent Drownings

NEW JERSEY — U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) Tuesday announced his new Safe Swimming Strategy to help prevent drownings and protect our children and families in pools, especially during the summer months.

In 2022, at least 50 people died in New Jersey after drowning in swimming pools or natural water. Last June a 55-year-old River Vale man drowned in his backyard pool, a 7-year-old girl drowned in a backyard Teaneck pool, a 1-year-old boy drowned in a backyard pool in Paramus, and two teenage brothers drowned in a Bayonne school pool.

National Drowning Statistics:

  • According to the CDC, drowning is the leading cause of death for children ages 1-4 and the second leading cause of death for children ages 5-14.
  • Recent reporting found that an average of 371 children drown in pools and spas every year and there are an average of 6,300 non-fatal drowning injuries that need emergency department treatment.
  • Every year in the U.S., there are an estimated 4,000 fatal unintentional drownings — that is an average of 11 drowning deaths per day.

Gottheimer’s Safe Swimming Strategy Includes:

  • First, passing the bipartisan Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety (VGB) Reauthorization Act.
    • Gottheimer and Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (FL-25) are introducing the bipartisan VGB Reauthorization Act to bolster safety standards for public swimming pools and spas, and promote awareness to prevent pool-related injuries and deaths.
  • Second, promoting strong swimming skills.
    • Gottheimer encouraged parents to enroll their children in free or reduced cost swimming lessons at a local YMCA, USA Swimming Chapter, or Parks and Recreation department.
    • Research shows that 64 percent of Black American children and 45 percent of Hispanic children have low-to-no swimming ability.
    • The VGB Reauthorization Act will provide federal investments for swim lessons nationwide.
  • Third, ensuring pools are up to code and following necessary safety standards.
    • The VGB Reauthorization Act includes a grant program that incentivizes states and municipalities to have pool and spa safety laws and requirements on the books. It will also ensure that all public and hotel pools have proper safety drain covers and shut-off valves designed to prevent children from being trapped underwater by the powerful suction of pool filter systems.
    • The VGB Reauthorization Act will expand eligibility for federal pool safety grants and create additional oversight and reporting requirements.
  • Finally, spreading awareness to promote safe swimming and drowning prevention.
    • The VGB Reauthorization Act will create a new grant awareness campaign for the Consumer Product Safety Commission to conduct outreach.
    • Gottheimer highlighted the importance of preventing young children from being able to get near water if an adult isn’t nearby and installing more and stronger layers of protection like a 4-sided fencing with a self-closing, self-latching gate around all pools.
    • Gottheimer encouraged parents to learn CPR and residents to consider working as lifeguards to combat the national shortage.

“With summer starting, we need to make sure we’re taking the necessary precautions and measures to keep our children and families safe when swimming. While swimming in a pool can be plenty of fun, it also comes with plenty of danger. Just like across the country, our communities here in Jersey have witnessed a terrible spike in drownings recently. Drownings right here in Bergen County and across North Jersey,” Gottheimer said. “This summer, we need to do everything we can to make sure not one more child or adult dies from drowning. It’s preventable, and there are clear and easy steps we can take to make our pools, lakes, and communities safer for families. And there’s nothing partisan about saving a child from drowning.”

Gottheimer was joined at Ridgewood’s Graydon Pool by Ridgewood Mayor Paul Vagianos, Director of Competitive Swimming at the Ridgewood YMCA Meaghan Donnelly, lifeguards, and local first responders.

Jay Edwards

Born and raised in Northwest NJ, Jay has a degree in Communications and has had a life-long interest in local radio and various styles of music. Jay has held numerous jobs over the years such as stunt car driver, bartender, voice-over artist, traffic reporter (award winning), NY Yankee maintenance crewmember and peanut farm worker. His hobbies include mountain climbing, snowmobiling, cooking, performing stand-up comedy and he is an avid squirrel watcher. Jay has been a guest on America’s Morning Headquarters,program on The Weather Channel, and was interviewed by Sam Champion.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button