Swimming Pool and Drowning Accidents
According to the CDC, about 10 people per day (two of which are children under 14 years old) die from unintentional drowning. It’s the fifth leading cause of unintentional injury death in the U.S. But death isn’t the only concern.
For ever child who dies, five others get emergency care for nonfatal submersion injuries. Many of these accidents happen in public pools or beaches, especially in an area like Orlando, Florida, where the weather is warm and inviting and swimming activities are popular and easy to access.
Preventing Drowning Accidents
The owner or manager of a swimming pool or public beach should ensure that proper care is taken to ensure everyone stays safe while swimming. Though they vary by state (and perhaps even municipality), some of these precautions are the law, especially when it comes to public swimming.
To ensure swimmers stay safe, an owner should:
Ensure a qualified individual (one who can swim and administer CPR, like a lifeguard) is watching swimmers at all times (undistracted by things like chatty friends or cell phones). If it’s a private pool, children should always be supervised by an adult and adults should use the buddy system — never swim alone! Drowning can happen quickly (even when lifeguards are present), so leaving someone alone while swimming for “just a minute” is too long.
Access to pools should be blocked during non-operational hours by barriers like locked, childproof fences. Posting signs isn’t good enough to keep out a curious 4 year old. Private pools should also have restricted access.
Swimmers should have access to floatation devices like life jackets. Water wings and swimming floats or rings are great for learning when kids are directly supervised, but the CDC notes that they do not protect swimmers the same way. While the owner of a public pool can’t vouch for the swimming ability of all patrons, he or she should have preventative and emergency devices available. Private owners should also have these devices available.
Closely monitor alcohol consumption. In a public pool, it’s often illegal to bring alcohol (or anything with a glass bottle), but some people will attempt to shirk the rules, so be cognizant of people’s behavior, too. If they’re acting drunk, they probably are, even if you don’t see an open container. If you have a private pool, ban or limit alcohol consumption before swimming.
Keep the pool and deck clear of any toys that aren’t being used. They can cause trips and falls (which may lead to drowning) or inhibit a lifeguard or other adult’s view of someone in trouble.
If you’re a parent, children should be informed that they’re required to follow the safety instructions of you, other trusted adults and lifeguards at all times and that they’re never to run near the pool.
Extremely physical horseplay should be a no-no. Holding people under water (even as a joke), wrestling, or any type of extreme play can not only cause drowning, it can distract a lifeguard or even cause confusion that results in a lifeguard failing to see that someone is in trouble and not just playing.
If the Worst Happens and Someone You Love Drowns or is Injured
Accidents happen, and sometimes, a drowning is just that — a terrible accident. But often, especially in the case of public pools, negligence on the part of the owner is to blame. If death was the result, nothing can bring your loved one back, but the law does allow you recourse that may save anyone else from the same fate, while providing you with much-needed funds to pay for burial expenses (in the case of death) and medical bills as a result of the accident.
We’ll go over the incident with you and help you determine how the owner broke the law or was negligent and what your legal remedies are.