September 26, 2017
Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr.
California State Capitol, Suite 1173
Sacramento, CA 95814
SB 442 (Newman): Pool Drownings
AAP-CA Position: SUPPORT
Dear Governor Brown:
The American Academy of Pediatrics, California (AAP-CA), representing over 5,000 California
pediatricians, strongly supports proposed legislation SB 442 (Newman). SB 442 would update
and strengthen California’s Swimming Pool Safety Act in order to better safeguard the lives and
safety of California children.
Despite existing regulation, residential swimming pools continue to be the leading cause of death
for California children ages 1-4. Furthermore, “near-drowning” victims, who survive a drowning
situation but often suffer lifelong disability and brain damage as a consequence, make up the
largest group of people provided treatment through the California Department of Developmental
Services. This represents not only a financial burden on the state, but—far more
importantly—lifetimes of suffering imposed on children and their families.
Even an extremely conscientious parent may not be aware that their toddler has gone missing
and is at the bottom of the pool before it is too late. “Drowning can be quick and quiet when it
occurs. In real life, there is very little splashing, waving or screaming. When a child begins to
struggle in the water, something called the instinctive drowning response kicks in. 12 Older
children cannot wave their arms because they instinctively extend their arms to the side and
press down on the water to try and lift their bodies up so their mouth is above the water line.
Younger children do not even have the strength to do this so will remain with their face in the
water with little to no movement in their arms and legs. Nor can children yell – they are
struggling to keep their mouths above water and only have time to grab a quick breath before the
cycle repeats and eventually they tire out, cannot fight to stay above water and become
submerged. 12-13 Drowning takes only minutes and once the instinctive drowning response
begins it can be less than 20 seconds before a child sinks below the surface. 3 Brain damage can
occur within five minutes of being submerged under water, and with each minute a child is
submerged, the severity of outcome worsens.” ( Keeping Kids Safe In and Around Water , Safe
Kids Worldwide, July 2017)
SB 442 (Newman) would help to prevent the tragic consequences of drownings and near
drownings for children by taking simple, common-sense steps to strengthen the Swimming Pool
Safety Act: ensuring that every new pool constructed be equipped with two, rather than just one,
of seven specified safety measures; that in every house listed for sale with a pool or spa, a
noninvasive physical inspection be carried out to determine which of these safety features is
present; and that these standards be applied uniformly across the state.
California pediatricians respectfully request that you sign SB 442 (Newman ) into law. We thank
you for your public service and leadership on behalf of the health and wellbeing of children,
youth, and families in California.
Chief Executive Officer, American Academy of Pediatrics, California
CC: AAP-CA Leadership, Lydia Bourne, AAP-CA Advocate