MINNEAPOLIS (May 3, 2016) – Considering nearly 90 percent of child drowning deaths occur with an adult nearby, Abbey's Hope Charitable Foundation is releasing a chilling set of television and radio PSAs imploring adults to pay attention to children swimming nearby.

Scott and Katey Taylor founded Abbey’s Hope after their 6-year-old daughter Abigail died in 2008 as a result of injuries sustained from an improperly maintained pool drain cover. Over time, the organization has transitioned its message to additionally include prevention of childhood drownings via active supervision and its Water Watchdog program.

Produced by Minneapolis agency Gabriel deGrood Bendt (GdB), the foundation’s 30-second television PSA shows a young girl swimming alone and struggling for breath. By the time she finishes explaining that neither of her parents nor the other adults sitting poolside are paying attention to her, it’s too late.

"Our new PSA can be disturbing, and that’s the point,” said Scott Taylor, Abbey’s Hope chairman and founder. “The Water Watchdog program is in place to keep adults in supervisory roles attentive and aware that simple distractions like phone calls and texts can make a difference between a child’s life and death.” Abbey’s Hope and Gdb also created a pair of 30-second radio spots. One is an audio version of the television PSA, and the other features a mother playing Marco Polo with her daughter while taking a business call. After several calls of “Marco,” the mother realizes her daughter is no longer responding because she is drowning.

Drowning is the second-leading cause of unintentional death and injury among children ages 1-14 years old, with approximately 830 children dying annually as a result of unintentional drowning. Eighty-eight percent of child drowning deaths occur with an adult nearby. “The spots are especially attention-grabbing, because the bottom line is that these drownings are preventable,” said Katey Taylor, Abbey’s Hope president and founder. “Our Water Watchdog program outlines specific ways to stay vigilant, and we challenge all adults who find themselves near swimming areas to play their part. Put simply, always supervise children when they are in or near water.”

How the Water Watchdog Program Works: The Water Watchdog program requires one designated supervisor to keep a close eye on children who are swimming. The adult wears a Water Watchdog Tag and agrees to abide by the following rules until he or she hands off the tag, and water supervision responsibility, to another adult.

  • Maintain constant visual contact with the children in your group.
  • Do not drink alcohol, talk on the phone, socialize or read while watching children.
  • Keep a phone near the water for emergency purposes only.
  • Remain by the water until relieved by a new Water Watchdog.

To learn more about the Water Watchdog program, please click here.

About Abbey’s Hope:

Abbey’s Hope Charitable Foundation is a Minnesota nonprofit organization named after Abbey Taylor, the Edina, Minn., 6-year-old who died in 2008 as a result of injuries sustained from an improperly maintained pool drain cover. The foundation’s goals are to promote awareness and education related to child safety issues, work with the pool and spa industry to improve products and standards, and help educated parents, children and pool and spa manufacturers about the prevention of entrapment and traditional forms of drowning.

Find out more about Abbey’s Hope at abbeyshope.org.

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Excerpted from the eulogy at Abbey Taylor's Celebration of Life Service

Below the surface of a quiet pond lived a colony of water bugs. They were happy, living far from the sun. But they noticed that occasionally, a member of their colony would climb up a lily stalk and disappear from sight, never to return. Where do you suppose she went? wondered a water bug.

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Pool Safety Tips

  • Use the Water Watchdog System to make sure children are always closely supervised in the pool area.

  • Remind kids to stay away from pool and hot tub drains.

  • Never dive into water less than 9 feet deep.

  • Keep gates to the pool area latched.

More water safety tips