Swimming Pool Safety:
This is an excerpt from one of the recent episodes of ‘Do I Need a Lawyer?’ hosted by: Gary Martin Hays.
In this segment, please allow me to talk about a non-profit my wife and I started back in 2008 called Keep Georgia Safe.
The mission for Keep Georgia Safe is to provide safety education and crime prevention training to Georgia’s families.
Please check out our website – KeepGeorgiaSafe.org for all kinds of safety information that you can use to help protect your families and yourself.
Today, let’s talk about swimming pool safety.
Here are some important statistics:
* According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, about 10 people die EVERY DAY from drowning accidents – and this percentage obviously spikes much higher during the summer months.
* 20% of those deaths are children who are 14 years or younger.
* For every child who dies from drowning, 4 others will be treated in hospital emergency rooms
* Near drowning can lead to a permanent brain injury. More than 50% of the people who are admitted to emergency rooms due to drowning related injuries each year are hospitalized or placed in rehabilitative facilities.
* Children UNDER the age of 4 have the highest drowning rate.
* We assume that these drowning deaths only occur at a large swimming pool or spa. That is not the case. Children playing in the small portable pools are also at a high risk. In the last 10 years, there have been over 200 drownings in these small pools.
* 85% of all drowning fatalities to young children under the age of five occur at a residential pool.
* And African American children are at 10 times the risk of drowning than Caucasian children.
We are often asked who is legally responsible in these swimming pool accidents where the person drowns or suffers catastrophic injuries? It depends on a variety of factors. Generally speaking, a property owner is liable if he or she knew about the defect and did not warn anyone of the defect AND allowed it to exist. But in swimming pool cases, the law can vary greatly depending upon whether or not the injured person was on the property as a trespasser, or as an invitee.
One case in particular comes to mind that I handled a few years ago. A young child went through a gate surrounding a swimming pool at an apartment complex. The gate was not secured with a lock during the winter months. The child fell into the pool and his body was not found until hours later as it was submerged under a swimming pool cover that was only partly covering the pool. We were hired by the family the next day and were able to get photos of the scene that showed the gate was not locked as was required by the city and county ordinances. We were able to pursue the claims against the apartment complex and the management company for violation of these city and county codes.
Other potential claims are:
* There may be defective swimming pool equipment that caused the injury so the claims could be against the designer and/or manufacturer of the equipment.
* You could possibly pursue a negligent supervision claim if an on duty lifeguard does not properly do his job.
* A claim could be made if an apartment complex, hotel, or homeowner fails to properly secure the pool with a fence and locking system.
* Lack of Safety Signage;
* Failure to cover drains.
We would like to see that these accidents NEVER happen as these are PREVENTABLE injuries and PREVENTABLE deaths. Here are some tips you can use regarding swimming pool safety:
* Remember the buddy system. Never swim alone; only get in the water with a friend that can swim.
* NEVER leave a young child unsupervised IN or AROUND a pool.
* Do not use flotation devices as a substitute for supervision. However, please keep life jackets or other flotation devices nearby if they are ever need.
* Do not assume that your child can be left alone because he is capable of swimming.
* Feet first is a great rule of thumb – whether you are jumping into a pool or a lake.
* Remove toys from in and around the pool when they are not being used as these can attract young children to the water.
* If you have a pool at your home, please make sure you have fence around it that can be locked – and NEVER prop the gate open.
* Ensure the pool has safe drain covers.
* Keep rescue equipment by the pool.
* Keep a phone close by the pool in case of an emergency.
* Learn CPR.
* If you have only recently become the owner of a pool, I highly recommend that you research the federal, state and local codes that apply and make sure you are in compliance.
* Teach your children to swim. Enroll them in swim lessons
Again, it’s my goal to try and prevent these tragedies from ever happening. But if someone you know is injured in a swimming pool accident, please do not delay in contacting us.