Children everywhere look forward to summertime. The weather is warm, the days are long, and swimming pools are open, providing the perfect months-long, fun-filled vacation time away from school. Unfortunately, fun in the sun can quickly turn disastrous. Each year there are approximately 4,900 pool or spa related “submersion” injuries and approximately 390 pool or spa-related deaths.1 Recent data shows seventy-five percent of the fatalities involve children under 5 years old. Not surprisingly, the number of June and July pool and spa submersion-related injuries exceed all other months combined. As attorneys handling personal injury claims, we offer these suggestions to parents and pool owners to help prevent such accidents and deaths:
- No Unsupervised Swimming – Accidents can happen in the blink of an eye, so no children (even strong swimmers) should be allowed near or in the pool without adult supervision. If the supervising adult must leave the vicinity, even for a few minutes, children should get out of and away from the pool until the adult returns. Supervised swimming saves lives.
- Drains and Filters – Pool drains and filtration systems are sometimes the cause of pool-related injuries and deaths. Drain entrapments can entangle hair, clothing, or a child’s limbs. Drain covers should be compliant with the ANSI/ASME A112.19.8 performance standard and inspected regularly. Depending on the style and age of the pool, federally-compliant drain covers are available for as little as $20. As injury attorneys, we suggest that a small monetary investment could prevent serious injury or death.
- Fences, Ladders, and Locked Entries – Depending on where you live, a pool enclosure or lockable fences/gates may be required. Whether required by ordinance or not, pool safety fences are strongly recommended. Having a pool fence or gate equipped with an alarm can help keep small children away from unsupervised pools and alert you if the pool gate is opened. Additionally, it is always a good practice to remove the ladder from above-ground pools when they are unattended. As injury attorneys who have worked on pool fatality cases, we know that pool fences, locked gates and alarms help prevent pool and spa-related injuries and deaths.
- Teach Swimming and Pool Safety – Teaching children to swim at an early age and knowing which children are not strong swimmers is important in preventing pool accidents. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that swim instruction for children ages 1 to 4 may decrease drowning. Drowning and other close calls are eight times more likely with children who don’t know how to swim. Most swimming schools have classes geared toward small children and teach basic safety skills such as floating, kicking and how to climb out of a pool.
- Stay Educated – It is important to teach children about pool safety and show, by example, safe pool practices. Also, parents and those supervising swimmers should know CPR and other life-saving skills. If an accident happens, being prepared to act quickly and appropriately could mean the difference between life and death.
As attorneys who handle injury claims resulting from pool accidents, we believe that safe pool practices and using proper safety equipment can help keep everyone, especially children, safe. When children have been taught to respect the water and better understand its hazards, parents can breathe a little easier knowing they have taken important steps in reducing the chance of pool and spa accidents.