Year-round pool access is still one of the best things about living in Florida. For many families, days spent by the pool and soaking in the sun make up some of the happiest memories. Unfortunately, the potential for a pool accident remains all too high, and accidental drowning continues to be one of the leading causes of death for children under the age of six.
Nearly 20% of all people who drown each year are less than 14 years old, according to the CDC. Pool accidents can happen in the blink of an eye and they can happen to anyone—no matter how old.
How Do Drowning and Pool Accidents Occur?
The details of drowning accidents are oftentimes unknown. Typically these incidents occur while young children are alone or when people are in a crowded swimming area, unable to get to help in time.
Alcohol, lack of safety devices, or a person’s inability to swim are some of the top causes of pool accidents and drownings. Even for professionals, the pool can still be a dangerous place to hang out without proper emergency support in place.
Shallow water blackout (SWB) happens when a person begins hyperventilating in water, loses oxygen, passes out, and eventually drowns. This phenomenon is most common with athletes who try to hold their breath too long and ignore their body’s need to breathe. Children often have breath-holding competitions for fun, but you need to keep an eye on them so that SWB doesn’t happen.
Because pool accidents and drownings can happen to anyone at any age, it’s important to be prepared whenever you’re about to enjoy the water. Above all, however, children still remain the most vulnerable population when it comes to pool safety.
Pool Safety Tips
When supervising small children at the pool, it’s important to plan ahead and make sure that you won’t be too distracted to keep a watchful eye. Don’t be fooled by shallow or kiddie pools—they can be just as dangerous as the deep end.
If at all possible, every person in your family should know how to swim or take lessons to learn. It’s hard to enjoy the benefits of a home pool if you’re worried about monitoring someone who can’t swim. You should tell your children that they are not allowed in the pool without you (no matter how good they are at swimming). Until children reach a mature enough age to stay safe, they should have to wait for adult supervision.
When you have to exit the pool area for any reason, find another trusted adult to watch your children. If no one else is available, it’s important to take the small children with you so you can be sure of their safety. This includes quick trips to the bathroom, snack bar, or car.
Children should wear protective garments until they are comfortable swimming without any type of assistance. If they are wearing life jackets, make sure they’re fastened securely. Arm floaties can pose a hazard because they can slide off the children’s arms. If the children you’re watching have these safety devices, keep an eye on them.
It’s helpful to know how to perform CPR in case of a pool accident. Anyone, especially children, can drown even if they know how to swim. Avoid drinking alcohol near any pool for your safety and the safety of those in your care. For caregivers on medication, make sure that it won’t impair your ability to act quickly if you need to save a child’s life.
Private Pool Safety Measures
Homeowners with private backyard pools need to be just as, if not more, vigilant when it comes to pool safety. Young children have been known to wander off into backyard pools without adult knowledge.
A fence or gate around a backyard pool can reduce a child’s chances of drowning by 83%, so it is an investment worth making. If your pool doesn’t have a gate around the perimeter, you need to find other ways to block it off from child use. Pool safety covers are one option for securing a backyard pool. They are designed to hold thousands of pounds of pressure, meaning that children who fall on top won’t fall in the water.
You can also add anti-slip materials around the pool area to prevent dangerous falls. This safety measure will protect everyone from grandparents to children. If you’re in the process of building a pool, you can ask your contractor what built-in anti-slip options are available. Otherwise, you can buy mats and other materials online.
Lastly, make sure that you have safe pool equipment that won’t pose a hazard to swimmers. Old drain covers should be updated or replaced. If you’re at the public swimming pool, do a quick check of where the safety equipment is located so you know where to go in case of an emergency.
If your pool has defective or old drain covers, make sure that they are updated and safety-compliant. When visiting a public pool, check the drains yourself before letting your children play. For safety equipment, make sure that you have a well-stocked first aid kid and a rescue-grade flotation device—or that the facility you’re visiting has both of those things.
As the warmer months approach, days spent by the pool seem to make the time pass faster. With all the activity swarming around, it’s easy to get distracted and forget to watch out for the people closest to you. Whether visiting public pools or hosting pool parties at your own house, your vigilance is essential in keeping young children and other swimmers safe.
By planning ahead for pool trips, adding safety features to your pool, and educating young children on pool safety, you can avoid an absolutely tragic day for your family.
Legal Help Following an Accident
Sometimes, despite our best efforts, accidents happen and there’s nothing you can do to prevent them. If the worst happens and your child has a pool accident resulting in injury or death, consider contacting a personal injury attorney or a swimming pool accident attorney. These professionals can help you in sorting out what your rights may be under the law, as well as helping you to get compensation for issues such as negligence or product defects that result in injury or death.
If you live in Florida, the legal team of Zimmerman and Frachtman is dedicated to helping our clients fight for compensation following these types of accidents. We have more than 25 years of experience in personal injury law, and our talented legal team has recovered more than $300 million in settlements and trial verdicts for its clients. Contact us right away if your loved has been involved in a pool accident or drowning and you need legal help.