With the sweltering hot summer days and the kids being around the house because of the current school situation, this is a good time to get some relief by jumping in the pool. Whether you are able to enjoy the pool right in your backyard or take the family to a public pool, swimming is a great way to enjoy the outdoors – but, there can also be dangers, too.
Drowning is the leading cause of death for kids between the ages of 1 and 4, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. But the fact is, anyone can accidently drown in a pool, no matter what age. Just a few minutes under water can cause a victim to lose consciousness, and that's all it takes for a child without proper supervision to become a fatality.
All public swimming pools in Florida are subject to inspections twice per year to check things like water quality, proper fencing and barriers and installation of a proper drain cover to keep a swimmer's hair from being entrapped in the pool drain. For private pools, the Consumer Products Safety Commission, (CPSC), publishes a booklet of guidelines regarding installing adequate physical barriers around pools that are designed to restrict access in order to reduce drowning incidents. But, they are just guidelines and not mandated by law.
Some Florida jurisdictions have additional enclosure restrictions added to their building codes so that any new pools being constructed will be required to install the mandated type of fencing or barriers.
As you can imagine, a sparkling pool can be like a magnet to a small child, and they'll naturally want to get close to check it out. It only takes a second for an unsupervised child to fall in.
Here are some drowning statistics from the CPSC:
- Drowning in a pool or spa claims approximately 300 kids below the age of 5 annually.
- Approximately 4,000 children under 5 years old suffer non-fatal drowning injuries and required emergency room treatment each year.
- 87% of drowning fatalities involving children under 5 happened at residential pools or spas. These include pools owned by the family, friends or relatives of the victim.
- Even smaller, portable pools claim an average of 40 lives per year for children under the age of 15.
Even though private pools are not subject to the same inspection requirements as are public or commercial pools, the owners are still obligated to provide a safe environment for those swimming in them.
How to Keep Kids – and Adults – Safe Around Pools
There are many steps you can take to help reduce the risk of drowning in a pool or spa.
- Never let anyone use your pool when you're not present
- Do not let your kids – even teenagers – swim unsupervised
- If you have an above-ground pool, remove the access ladder if you go on vacation or live up north part of the year
- Keep your lanai screen doors locked, even when you're home and not using your pool
- Have your children take a certified swimming class or instruction
- Learn CPR in the event someone needs resuscitation after a near-drowning
- If your pool is not within a screened enclosure, it needs to have a sufficient fence and locking gate to restrict access
- Make sure your pool has a properly designed and installed drain cover
There is actually a law in effect in the United States related to proper swimming pool drain covers, enacted after the tragic death of Virginia Graeme Baker, a 7-year old girl who drowned when her hair got entangled in a hot tub suction drain. The law requires certified suctions, drains, fittings and other components to be used at public swimming pools and spas. Since the act went into effect in 2008, there have been no reported fatalities involving a child being entrapped on a suction outlet cover in a public pool or spa, according to the CPSC.
Do You Need an Attorney?
A child drowning is one of the most tragic types of accidents a parent can experience, and of course not every case requires the involvement of an injury attorney. However, in cases where a pool owner, pool fence installer, or pool maintenance company may have acted negligently and a child was injured or killed because of an unsafe condition at the pool, the victim may be able to hold them accountable under the law.
An unsecured pool railing or fence, the wrong kind of pool drain cover or another type of unsafe scenario can result in the death or serious injury to a swimmer, no matter how old they are. There are also laws regarding what is known as an “attractive nuisance”, which means an inherently dangerous or unsafe physical location that may be attractive to children. This could apply to an unattended, accessible pool.
If you feel a drowning or near-drowning of a family member was the result of another party's negligence or lack of safety precautions, we are always available to speak with you at absolutely no cost. It is always helpful to get the answers to your questions from an expert legal perspective, and trusted counsel in making the right decision about what to do.
You can speak to our experienced, skilled drowning victim attorneys any time for free by calling 239-461-5508, or just fill out this form and we'll contact you immediately.
We hope you enjoy a safe and happy summer!