Case Study: Public Education Campaign for Drowning Prevention


Published on

Drowning is the leading cause of injury death for children ages 1-4. Moreover, it's estimated that thousands of children suffer permanent, profound brain damage resulting from submersion injuries. The National Drowning Prevention Alliance received a contract from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to implement a comprehensive public education campaign to prevent childhood drowning.

Published in: Health & Medicine, Business
1 Comment
1 Like
  • From 2010-2011, I helped implement a national public education campaign for child drowning prevention. The campaign was based on a strategic communications plan I submitted to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission on behalf of the National Drowning Prevention Alliance.
    Are you sure you want to  Yes  No
    Your message goes here
No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide
  • Hi, my name is Beverly Payton. I am an independent public relations consultant from Richboro, Pennsylvania, my firm Payton Communications is the public relations agency of record for the National Drowning Prevention Alliance and I serve on the NDPA board of directors.Today I want to speak to you about the child drowning prevention campaign NDPA created while under contract with the CPSC. The goal is not just to educate the public, but to be compelling enough to promote positive behavior change.
  • Nearly 80 percent of both the reported fatalities and the ED-treated injuries were to children younger than five years of age.The overwhelming majority of the estimated ED-treated submersion injuries for 2007-2009 and the reported fatalities for 2005-2007 were associated with pools.Children between the ages of one and two (12 to 35 months) represented nearly half of estimated injuries for 2007- 2009 and more than half of the 2005 -2007 reported fatalities for children younger than fifteen.For children younger than fifteen, 46 percent of the victims of ED-treated pool or spa submersion injuries for 2007 ␣ 2009 were admitted to the hospital or treated and transferred to another hospital compared to four percent for all product related ED-treated injuries involving children younger than fifteen for the same time period.Injured children younger than five were treated and released at a higher percentage (46 percent) than injured children between the ages of five and fourteen (41 percent). Thirty- eight percent of children between the ages of five and fourteen were admitted to the hospital compared to 31 percent of children younger than five.
  • For incidents involving children 5 to 14 years of age, a greater share (41 percent for injuries and 45 percent for fatalities) occurred in public locations.Only 4 percent of fatal victims survived beyond a week of the submersion, and these victims had severe injuries and required intensive medical care.
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) [online]. [cited August 2010].  Available from Downing, San Diego 9/2010
  • 77 percent of both the reported fatalities and the ED-treated injuries were to children younger than five years of age between 2005-2007.
  • 35% of immersion episodes in children are fatal33% result in some neurologic impairment And 20% in severe brain damageOnly about 12 percent of ED treated submersion injured children recover fully.
  • My friend and colleague in drowning prevention NadinaRiggsbee, of Benicia, Calif., knows first-hand the suffering those parents endure. In 1978, a babysitter removed a bar the Riggsbees had placed in the track of a sliding glass patio door to let the family dog outside. While the sitter was in the bathroom, the Riggsbee’s 26 month-old daughter, Samira, and 14-month-old son, JJ, opened the door and fell into the backyard swimming pool. Samira died. But JJ survived with profound brain damage. After her family’s tragedy, Nadina became outraged whenever she heard a news report of another child drowning. So she thought to myself, ‘Someone should do something.” So she did. Riggsbee founded the Drowning Prevention Foundation to promote public awareness and advocate for swimming pool barrier legislation. Thanks to her efforts, Contra Costa County, Calif., required all newly constructed swimming pools to have an isolation fence, or an automatic safety cover or alarms on house doors leading to the pool area. The 1984 act is thought to be the first swimming pool barrier law in the nation.
  • This is from an old study that needs to be updated, but the results clearly showed that most parents were unaware of the drowning risk to young children or what they should do to prevent the tragedy. Personally, I did not know the extent of the problem until I began researching the issue after my Alicea drowned. Parents tend to worry more about issues that are sensationalized in the media—such as stranger abductions which are rare occurrences.
  • 77 percent of both the reported fatalities and the ED-treated injuries were to children younger than five years of age between 2005-2007.
  • 77 percent of both the reported fatalities and the ED-treated injuries were to children younger than five years of age between 2005-2007.
  • Obviously, we should all care. But the most passionate members of the National Drowning Prevention Alliance are first responders who live in areas of the country with a high child drowning rate. I spoke to one paramedic who told me: “Whenever the alarm sounds we all say a silent prayer that it’s not another baby in a pool.” Bereaved families who lost a child to drowning are also passionate advocates because they don’t what their child’s death to be “for nothing.” Others include pediatricians and other family health care providers, public health officials, epidemiologists who are aware of the issue and understand that this is a preventable, needless tragedy.
  • Obviously, we should all care. But the most passionate members of the National Drowning Prevention Alliance are first responders who live in areas of the country with a high child drowning rate. I spoke to one paramedic who told me: “Whenever the alarm sounds we all say a silent prayer that it’s not another baby in a pool.” Bereaved families who lost a child to drowning are also passionate advocates because they don’t what their child’s death to be “for nothing.” Others include pediatricians and other family health care providers, public health officials, epidemiologists who are aware of the issue and understand that this is a preventable, needless tragedy.
  • Alicea’s favorite cartoon character was “She-Ra, Princess of Power.” And long after Halloween she would dress in her She-Ra costume, climb to the top of her sliding board hold her her yellow, plastic “Sword of Protection” above her head while declaring to all the world: “I am She-Ra, Princess of Power.” We have a little book she created in nursery school titled “All About Me” where Alicea said that when she grew up she intended to become the Princess of Power. When asked why she responded: “Because I want to SAVE PEOPLE.”
  • But no one was there to save Alicea on May 26, 1988 when she fell into a neighbor’s unsecured above ground swimming pool. I’m a careful, responsible mom. Alicea was not allowed to play outside unsupervised. My children learned to swim at a young age. In fact, Alicea could jump off the side and swim halfway across the YMCA swimming pool to me. She could jump off the diving board and swim to the edge of the pool. The water in the pool she fell into wasn’t even above her head.If this tragedy happened to me, it can happen to anyone.
  • In the years following Alicea’s death I became a drowning prevention advocate. Articles about me were published in local and national newspapers. I was interviewed by consumer reporter Herb Dennenburg and was a guest on Sally Jessy Raphael.But the hardest thing to accomplish was having legislation enacted. I started with my local township in Upper Bucks County and finally had the Bucks County Commissioners pass a resolution, but they had no power to enforce it. Finally I persuaded a local state representative to introduce the Pa. Swimming Pool Safelty and Education Act-nicknamed Alicea’s Law. It died in committee year after year. Swimming pool industry lobbyists and municipal officials worked to defeat the bill. Finally a barrier code that met many of the requirements in the CPSC model code was tucked into the builder’s code and that’s what we have today.I had a fantasy of laying Alicea’s Law on my daughter’s grave after it was passed, but I would not even attend the signing of this bill, since even if it had been enacted before her death it would not have saved Alicea due to the grandfather clause.
  • Virginia Graeme Baker granddaughter of former Secretary of State James Baker, Graeme went with her mother, Nancy, and four sisters to a family friend’s home for a graduation party on June 15, 2002. 
  • I urge you to visit Pool Safely dot gov and noodle around in there to become familiar with all the wonderful public education resources and then get involved by utilizing those materials to educate parents and pool owners in your community. Join the NDPA, contact first responders, pediatricians, family physicians, and anyone else in your community and in your networks who can help get information out.
  • Have you ever had a nagging feeling about a job left unfinished or a mission left undone? I’m exploring the Quakers—Society of Friends and one of their philosophies is to “Follow your leaning.” So after being laid off from my position with a major health care marketing and publishing company, I decided to launch my own public relations consulting business. While I was looking for clients I decided to do some pro bono work for causes I was passionate about. I searched for drowning prevention organizations and contacted the director of the National Drowning Prevention Alliance and offered to do some pro bono public relations work: Kristin Goffman, who was then the Exec. Dir, asked: “Have you ever answered a federal RFQ?” I said, “No, but I’d be glad to do so on NDPA’s behalf.” The RFQ was issued by the CPSC to create a national public education program to educate the public about drowning prevention. This was exactly the kind of work I was looking to do. I had recently acquired my Accreditation in Public Relations and was well-qualified to create and carry out a strategic communications plan. So the first thing I did was survey the NDPA board of directors and key members to assess the organization’s capabilities. I was pleased to learn that several member of the organization worked in public relations, NDPA Founding President Maureen Williams was also accredited in Public Relations. Other members were leaders of their own organizations which had many years of experience in educating the public about aquatic safety issues. So I thought if we could tap that vast resource of talent, we could really do something wonderful. And we did. I’m really, really proud of this work and I hope you will not only be impressed and interested, but will find some program or resources we created that you can use in your own community.
  • Messaging: Keep it simple. Keep it consistent. Keep it memorable. The Swim for Life Foundation generously offered NDPA its public education program called the Safer 3Safer Water: Prevent AccessIsolation fencing separates pool from house & yard area. Minimum 4 ft. high w self-closing, self-latching gate Supplemental barriers & alarms on house doors and pools Safer Kids: Swimming and Water Safety LessonsConstant adult eye-contact supervision of children in waterSwimming and aquatic safety lessons (for adults and children)Safer Response: Know what to do in an emergencyCPR certification for parents, babysitters and pool/spa ownersPool-side rescue aids available (phone, shepherds hook, buoy)
  • It’s very hard to get the media’s attention now-a-days. News rooms are shrinking, journalists wear many hats and cover many beats. The news “hole” is shrinking due to loss of ad revenue. Moreover, my research into our key target audience—moms of young children—revealed that the majority of them don’t even subscribe to a daily newspaper. Nevertheless, NDPA needed to demonstrate substantial media relations success to fulfill the contract requirements. So media relations was a significant component of our campaign.
  • This chart compares the “Share of Voice” NDPA had in the mainstream media in 2009-20010 and the SOV we achieved after I implemented our media relations campaign.
  • An independent analysis by CisionPoint shows that NDPA’s media relations campaign reached an audience of nearly one billion, three-hundred thirty six million. But, if that doesn’t hit our target audience—parents, specifically, MOMS of young children, we haven’t been effective. So, how do you reach MOMs?You have to be in that space where moms go for information. You also need to partner with credible sources of children’s health and safety information and get them on board promoting your message.
  • How many of you have a Facebook page where you connect with family and friends online? How many have a professional profile on LinkedIn? How many have a Twitter account? How many have looked at videos on YouTube or photos on Flick’r? Moms are in all these spaces and they increasingly go online to seek information and to connect with one another. They follow mom bloggers and many of them blog themselves.
  • The secret about social media is that it’s “social.” You need to first establish a relationship with the people you hope to champion your cause. It’s a slow-growth process and you must be willing to spend the time and know what you’re doing. If we wanted to engage moms, I knew we must establish a vibrant presence in social media. But not enough NDPA members were experienced in this space and those who were, didn’t have the time to needed to do it right. So we outsourced this job to a social media consultant and were very pleased with our results. By the end of August more than 2,000 people “liked” our Facebook Page, more than 66,000 had seen our posts (that were shared). The demographics were exactly what we were looking for the majority of our audience were was females, ages, 44 and younger. We have about 500 Twitter followers and our Tweets are retweeted by Twitter key mom influencers.
  • Recruit partners to distribute Pool Safely drowning prevention information to families. Pediatricians, public health, nurse educators, apartment complex owners, aquatic facility owners and operators.
  • When you are trying to influence behavior change the most important form of communication is FACE TO FACE, after that it’s VOICE TO VOICE, then personal print communications, then electronic communications.So NDPA had to introduce itself to important influencers and let them know what we were about and why they should embrace our mission. Among the many venues where NDPA exhibited include: Boy Scouts of America; World Aquatic Health Conference; American Public Health Association; Pool, Spa, Patio Expo; National Assn of EMS Physicians; Natl Aquatic Conference & Expo; International Boating & Water Safety Summit; Physical Ed Teachers; Pa Childhood Injury Prevention Conference, National Apartment Association; World’s Largest Swim Lesson events; U.S. Lifesaving Association, Fire Rescue International; EMS World Expo, etc.
  • Johnny and Cindy Johnson of the Swim for Life Foundation generously agreed to oversee the development of a preschool lesson plan targeted for ages 3 through 5. It also reaches their MOMs—who often also have other younger children in the home.
  • Swimming ability is key to prevent drowning. This is especially crucial for minority populations who often don’t have access to swim facilities.
  • We have brochures directed specifically to medical professionals, the general audience and B&W flyers for low-literacy populations, in both English and Spanish, available as electronic download to print on demand. NDPA will be very pleased to send you these resources to distribute in your communities. Visit to learn more.
  • A randomized, statistically valid survey will provide us with a valid assessment of communications program effectiveness and help us understand if our strategies and tactics reached our target audience. I hope to have this accomplished by the end of summer 2012.
  • After the Poison Prevention Packaging Act of 1970 went into effect, child poisoning death rates dropped substantially. But when it was amended to allow elderly persons and those with arthritis to obtain medications in easy-to-open containers, child poisoning rates increased. If a toddler visiting his grandparent found a bottle of the blood thinner Coumadin on a night stand and consumed it, there would be a serious medical emergency. We need similar laws to protect children from unsupervised access to pools. Even households where children don’t reside should not be exempt because young children might be guests.
  • Thanks to public education campaigns by Safe Kids USA and the League of American Bicyclists, it is unacceptable to show a child riding a bicycle without wearing a helmet on ads and TV programs. Yet pool ads rarely show isolation fencing as part of the landscape design.Nearly 15% (16.3 million) U.S. households reported access to a swimming pool at their residence; only 74% were reported to be adequately fenced (i.e., four-sided scale-resistant fence, completely separating the pool area from the house and yard, with self-closing, self-latching gate).An estimated 488,633 households with pool access, where the family owns the residence and has children less than 5 years old, were not adequately fenced.  Between 1994 and 2001-2003, the percentage of pools that were adequately fenced did not change substantially. One common complaint those of us who have lobbied for strict pool/spa barrier laws hears is “It will ruin my view.” My rejoinder to that statement is that “If your child drowns in your beautiful pool, it will RUIN YOUR LIFE.
  • This summer the American Academy of Pediatrics published a study about the dangers of portable pools. In many communities these fall outside residential swimming pool barrier codes because they are considered “temporary” structures.Young children have fallen in when they leaned over the pliable sidewall. They hold so much water that consumers are unlikely to drain them after each use, yet they are also not likely to surround them with an isolation fence.This picture even shows the swing set near the pool, a very dangerous situation. Every pool should be isolated from the house and the surrounding yard area by an 4-foot-high isolation fence with a self-closing, self-latching gate.
  • The National Center for CDR Policy and Practice, funded by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau, was established in 2002 as a resource center for state and local CDR programs. The National Center helps to standardize practices and build state and local team capacity to prevent deaths.
  • There is more data and better detail when there is access to all files –coroner investigation notes and case summary notes, police reports, CPS records, medical records.Police routinely respond to the incident site where a child drowned. Because police focus on investigating the circumstances that lead to an incident, police reports usually contain detailed information about the incident.Project lead is Julie Gilchrist with the CDC.
  • Join us at our symposium in beautiful San Diego.
  • Visit and become a member. Get free public education resources from the CPSC’s Pool Safely campaign. Let us help you educate your communities and save children’s lives. Thank you for your attention.Questions?
  • Visit and become a member. Get free public education resources from the CPSC’s Pool Safely campaign. Let us help you educate your communities and save children’s lives. Thank you for your attention.Questions?
  • Case Study: Public Education Campaign for Drowning Prevention

    1. 1. • Between 2008-2010 about 5,100 pool/spa ED-treated submersion injuries ea yr involved children younger than 15.• About 383 children younger than 15 died annually in pool/spa incidents between 2006-2008. (CPSC, 2011; Gibson, Kevin)• Nearly half of all drownings among children ages 1-4 occur in residential swimming pools. (CPSC, 1987; Brenner et al. 2001)• 69% of those who drowned in pools were last seen in the home or yard. (CPSC, 1987)
    2. 2. • Drowning is the 2nd leading cause of death in children ages 1-14.(CDC)• 76% of fatalities & 79% of ED-treated injuries involved children under age 5. (CPSC, 2011; Gibson, Kevin)• Home pools are the primary drowning site for children under 5 (84% deaths; 61% of injuries.) (CPSC, 2011; Gibson, Kevin )
    3. 3. 2007 US Unintentional Drownings• Ages 1-18… #6 after Motor Vehicle Accidents, Homicide, Cancer, Suicide and Congenital Anomalies (918 deaths)• Ages 1-14…#5 after Motor Vehicle Accidents, Cancer, Congenital Anomalies and Homicide (682 deaths)• Ages 1-10…#4 after Motor Vehicle Accidents, Cancer, and Congenital Anomalies (599 deaths)
    4. 4. • Drowning was the single leading cause of death for 2-year-olds in the U.S. in 2007.• More one-year-olds drown than 2-year-olds.
    5. 5. About 5,000 children are treated Immersion Episodesfor submersion injuries each year. 12%• The majority of children who survive 35% are discovered within 2 minutes of 20% submersion.• Most children who die are discovered about 10 minutes after submersion. 33%• Nearly all who require CPR are left with severe permanent brain injury. Fatal(Peterson, B. Morbidity of Childhood Near Drowning.Pediatrics 1977; 59:364-370) Neurologic Impairment Severe Brain Injury Recover
    6. 6. “The number of brain damaged children are climbing and these children are now living well into adulthood. My JJ is now 35.” --Nadina Riggsbee, founder Drowning Prevention Foundation JJ needs ongoing medical care: doctors, medications, hospitals, physical therapy, specialized equipment, special education, long term care facility… costs exceed $1 million dollars annually for each profoundlybrain injured child.
    7. 7. • Only 19% of Americans know that drowning is a leading cause of accidental death to children under 5.• 55% of parents report that they do not worry very much or at all about their child drowning.• 41% of pool owners are either unaware of what they should be doing to protect children or not taking the threat seriously enough.Safe Kids USA Survey May 28-30, 2003, by Harris Interactive viaits QuickQureySM online omnibus, interviewing a sample of2,023 U.S adults (aged 18+) of whom 294 owned backyardswimming pools.
    8. 8. 1. To create and implement a public education program that meets the requirements of section 1407 of the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act.2. To persuade target audiences to change behaviors that will improve the safety of swimming pools and spas.
    9. 9. Objectives for Audiences• 35% of parents and pool owners will demonstrate improved awareness of the drowning risks to young children and the importance of layers of protection by August 2012.• 25% of pool-owning parents will demonstrate increased awareness of entrapment risks by August 2012.• 40% of public aquatic facility operators, owners and their employees will demonstrate increased awareness of drowning prevention best practices and of the P&SS Act by August 2012.• 50% of state health officials will demonstrate increased awareness of the requirements of the P&SS Act and improved understanding of best practices for protecting children from drowning in residential pools and spas by August 2012.
    10. 10. Innovators Early Adopters Early Majority Late Majority Laggards Drowning Parents of Mothers of Pool owners with Prevention Pediatricians Drowned or S. Children ages 1-4. no young children Groups Injured Children in household CPSC Trauma Some Legislative Some Legislative CDC Physicians Mommy Bloggers Officials Officials NCICP & NursesSafe Kids USA ―Get the gov off HomeownersHome Safety my back,‖ no First Responders Insurance Risk Mass Media Council ―nanny state‖ Actuaries types Pool & Spa Pool & Spa Red Cross Public Health Fencing Industry Industry Industry
    11. 11. Social Environment Influences A & B’s Frame of Reference Communication occurs in the overlap.
    12. 12. States with the highest drowning rates:California, Florida, S. Arizona, Texas
    13. 13. Why I care… Alicea Nita Payton June 4, 1984 to May 27, 1988
    14. 14. Alicea Nita PaytonJune 4, 1984 to May 27, 1988
    15. 15. • The Pa. Uniform Construction Code, passed in 2004, requires residential swimming pools to be completely surrounded (isolation fencing) by a 48-inch high fence.• Or, if the house serves as part of the barrier (perimeter fencing), alarms must be installed on house doors leading to the pool area.• However, swimming pools constructed prior to April 9, 2004 were ―grandfathered‖—exempt from the requirements.• Farm properties were also exempt.• No public funds allocated for a public education program.
    16. 16. • Effective December 20, 2007, admin by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.• Imposes mandatory federal requirements for suction entrapment avoidance. – All drain covers sold in U.S. must comply. – All public pools, must comply. – Public pools with a single main drain must have one or more additional devices or systems to prevent entrapment. – Established a grant program for states to help with enforcement of barrier codes and Virginia Graeme Baker 1995-2002 drain upgrades for residential pools & spas.(But none qualified.)
    17. 17. • The Act required the CPSC to establish and carry out a public education program on methods to prevent drowning and entrapment in pools and spas.• Visit – To order free public safety materials to distribute – Access children’s safety games and activities – Learn more about child drowning prevention best practices – Learn how to get involved
    18. 18. • Working under contract with CPSC to help educate the public.• Visit to learn more and join us in our mission.• Strategy: 3-pronged approach – Public Education – Strategic Partnerships & Advocacy – Data Collection, Analysis & Reporting
    19. 19. 1. Provide 1. Prevent constant, vigil unsupervised ant access with supervision of barriers and children in or alarms. near water. 2. Use multiple2. Teach layers of children to protection for swim at a backup. young age.1. ALL Parents and pool owners should be CPR certified.2. Keep rescue equipment and a phone by the pool.
    20. 20. Dedicated online newsroom:
    21. 21. 900 893800700600500400 300 200 65 100 0 2009 to 2010 2010 to 2011
    22. 22. 1,600,000,000 1,335,867,9651,400,000,0001,200,000,0001,000,000,000 800,000,000 600,000,000 400,000,000 200,000,000 17,895,665 0 2009 to 2010 2010 to 2011
    23. 23. Get social!Social mediaoutreach includingFacebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, AIConnect, outreach to―MommyBloggers,‖etc.
    24. 24. • Engage with young, educated, i nfluencers.• You control the message.• No outside gatekeepers.
    25. 25. • Exhibit and present at trade shows, health and safety events and similar venues.• Forge strategic partnerships with important influencers such as public health, pediatricians, first responders, service organizations, aquatic recreation facilities and other children’s health and safety advocates.
    26. 26. • Be there.• Be seen.• Be heard.• Be persistent.
    27. 27. • Developed by Ph.D. in early childhood education. • Pilot studied and evaluated for age appropriateness.• Aquatic safety information goes • Program launch anticipated Jan. 2012 home to parents.
    28. 28. Partner with USA SwimmingFoundation’s “MakeA Splash” initiative todevelop an AquaticCenter Manual.Enable facilities in low-income areas, such as communitypools and Boys & Girls Clubs, to offer swimming lessons tounderserved populations.
    29. 29. Educational video for pool owners with Mission Impossible theme with Dueling Dads and Spanish PSAs for radio:
    30. 30. • Developed brochures & flyers.• Pilot Pool & Spa Safety Technician Program in California, Arizona and Florida.• site upgrades, fact sheets, online newsroom, links.• Special outreach in states with high drowning rates, including northeastern U.S.
    31. 31. To assess effectiveness of the public awarenesscampaign, NDPA will partner with an academicresearch organization to pursueobjective, primary, quantitative study to measure:1. Change in public awareness of child drowning risks.2. Attitudes and motivations towards environmental remedies.3. Parental behaviors regarding water supervision and teaching children swimming and water safety.
    32. 32. • Constant, consistent vigilance is nearly impossible for any human being—even the most highly trained and responsible.• Take the Selective Awareness Test• The best way to ensure children can not gain unsupervised access to residential pools and spas is to enact and enforce effective barrier codes.– See CPSC Model Barrier Code for guidance at
    33. 33. What’s wrong with this picture?
    34. 34. What’s wrong with this picture?
    35. 35. • Child Death Review (CDR) brings together government and community agencies to systematically share information on child death events and identify risk factors.• The goal is to understand how and why children die in order to take action to prevent other deaths.
    36. 36. • Work with local law enforcement and medical examiner/coroner to improve data collection• Encourage local law enforcement, medical examiners and coroners to improve and report on the data collected through scene investigations.• Disseminate Drowning Surveillance Guidelines for Scene Investigators to local law enforcement and coroner/medical examiner agencies.
    37. 37. Drowning IS Preventable.
    38. 38. Beverly M. Payton M.A., APR 215-357-5075―We make your mission our own.‖