FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NY HOSPITALS WILL SOON PLAY PIVOTAL ROLE IN CHILDHOOD DROWNING PREVENTION AS GOVERNOR HOCHUL SIGNS GROUNDBREAKING WATER SAFETY LAW
New York, NY – OCTOBER 26, 2023 – The New York Water Safety Coalition (NYWSC) together with the US Swim School Association (USSSA) are thrilled to announce that Senate Bill S.3608-A (Webb)/Assembly Bill A.4987-A (Pheffer Amato), has been signed into law by Governor Kathy Hochul.
Drowning is the leading cause of death for children under 5 and now kills about 4,000 people across the country each year. New York ranks fourth in total drownings in the nation, and drownings occur in every region of our state. Governor Hochul has helped to save countless young lives by signing this bill into law.
This landmark legislation, now Chapter 588 of the Laws of 2023, aims to educate parents, the first line of defense against childhood drowning. It mandates that New York hospitals offer new parents a brief, state-approved informational video focusing on the critical issue of drowning risks for infants and young children. Given that drowning, which disproportionately affects minorities, remains the leading cause of death for children under five, this initiative represents a monumental advance in public safety.
“It is critical that we ensure new parents have access to education on the dangers of drowning that can occur by leaving a toddler unattended in or near even two inches of water,” said Senator Lea Webb. “According to the CDC, drowning can happen quickly and quietly anywhere there is water, especially to unsupervised children. This includes lakes and oceans, pools, bathtubs, and even buckets of water. I am pleased Governor Hochul signed my legislation ensuring that parents or guardians of a newborn be required to view a short video presentation, approved by the department of health commissioner on the dangers of drowning for infants and young children. New parents are already required to watch an approximately 8-minute video presentation on the dangers of shaking infants and young children prior to leaving the hospital. This law adds a short video on drowning to help equip parents with another resource to support the care of their children.”
Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato said, “This is going to save lives. The fact that more children under five years old die from drowning than anything else is horrible. This is a real problem, and through this new law we can address it and provide parents with the education to prevent a tragedy. I thank the advocates for their dedication to this issue, and I am glad to see our State take a tremendous step forward in keeping our children safe.”
Rich Specht, Co-Founder and President of the ReesSpecht Life Foundation, said, “As the parents of a drowning victim, we couldn't be prouder of New York State taking the lead in helping to educate parents about the very real threat drowning represents to their children. This new law is an important first step in eliminating the misconceptions around water safety that make drowning the number one cause of death of children under five. It will save the lives of countless children whose parents will now be armed with the very knowledge that would have prevented our son's death.”
Jim Spiers, president of STOP DROWNING NOW and founding NYWSC member, stated, "The signing of this crucial public safety legislation marks a pivotal moment in the fight against drowning, a tragic yet preventable epidemic. The state can now make a lasting impact in the battle against drowning and New York will become a leader in drowning prevention."
This law, the first of its kind in the United States, positions New York as a national leader in drowning prevention. It is anticipated that the law will substantially elevate public awareness and empower families to make safer choices in and around the water.
Lisa Zarda, executive director for the United States Swim School Association stated, "The USSSA is thrilled to have partnered with members of the New York Water Safety Coalition to put forth this first of its kind law. Educating parents on drowning prevention and water safety has been shown in other countries like Australia to be an important layer of protection and our hope is this new law will serve as a template for adoption in states across the country."
In addition to this significant law, NYWSC continues its advocacy with Senate Bill S.5815 (Mannion)/Assembly Bill A.6205 (Reyes), aimed at establishing a statewide drowning prevention public awareness campaign.
For further information or to become involved, visit WWW.NYWSC.ORG or email email@example.com.
About the New York Water Safety Coalition
The New York Water Safety Coalition is a group of aquatics organizations, swim schools, water safety advocates, and local businesses that have united around a common mission: to increase access to lifesaving swim instruction and reduce the rates of drowning in New York State.