Here in Florida, swimming pools are a part of everyday life—one census counted over 1 million residential pools in the state. With year-round warm weather, it’s hard to imagine living here without one of the best ways to beat the heat.
But without proper supervision, safety measures, and maintenance, swimming pools can be deadly—especially for young children and toddlers. In the United States, drowning is the leading cause of injury death for children between the ages of 1 and 4. Currently, Florida leads the United States in drowning deaths for the under 5 demographic, with 7.54 drowning deaths per 100,000 people.
Swimming pools are the most dangerous body of water for young children and toddlers, with 66% of their drowning deaths occurring in a pool, and the rest occurring in other bodies of water and bathtubs.
People who use pools on a regular basis may be unaware of how dangerous they can be without proper supervision. Among all ages, unintentional drowning is the 5th most common cause of death. After toddlers and young children, the age demographic most at risk for drowning is the elderly (85+).
The experienced personal injury attorneys at Lawlor, White & Murphey have seen far too many accidental injuries and deaths caused by seemingly harmless swimming pools. We know exactly how much of a hazard they can be, and believe that pool owners need to be held responsible if someone is harmed due to their negligence. Doing this not only provides victims with much-needed compensation so that they can pay for things like medical bills and funeral expenses, but also sheds light on an incredibly serious problem.
Most drowning deaths are preventable. Parents and pool-owners should be aware of risk factors—especially for young children who cannot swim. There are many things that can cause a drowning, but with supervision, proper equipment, and CPR training, parents can create a safe and fun pool experience for people of all ages.
Lack of Supervision. Drownings are sometimes called a “silent catastrophe.” This is because they can happen quickly and quietly. A child can drown in minutes—the time it takes to answer a single phone call. Even if the child has had formal swimming lessons, they should not be left unattended. According to the CDC, “Most young children who drowned in pools were last seen in the home, had been out of sight less than five minutes, and were in the care of one or both parents at the time.”
Children should always be within arm’s reach when around bodies of water. Young children should never be left by a pool unsupervised, nor should they be left in the care of another young child, even for a short time. The adult in charge of monitoring the pool should not engage in separate activities like chatting with others, mowing the lawn, or reading.
While many public pools employ lifeguards, the presence of a lifeguard should not be considered adequate supervision for a young child. Lifeguards may not see or hear a child in time to prevent drowning. Often, it is another pool attendee or swimmer who will notice a child drowning before the attending lifeguard does.
Lack of Barriers. Regardless of location, pools should have adequate fencing surrounding the body of water. Failing to provide some type of barrier to prevent unsupervised young children from entering the pool area can be construed as negligence in a civil court.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, over half of all drowning deaths among young children could have been prevented by four-sided fencing separating the pool from the house and the yard. Fences should be at least four feet in height. Gates should be self-closing and self-latching, opening outwardly. The latches that provide access to the pool should be safely out of reach of a small child.
Portable, inflatable pools are popular choices for many families. These pools can be dangerous for children as well, however. The flexible sides of the pool can collapse, causing a young child to fall in and drown. Above-ground pools should have the same fencing protection as their built-in counterparts.
Lack of Proper Flotation Devices Water wings, inflatables, or foam toys are for recreational purposes only. Only life jackets are regulated for safety by government institutions. Inexperienced swimmers and young children should be fitted with the proper safety devices in order to prevent drowning, both on boats and in swimming pools.
Lack of CPR Training. Learning CPR can help prevent future drowning deaths. Children have a higher rate of survival and a lower chance of long-term brain damage if a bystander begins CPR before emergency personnel arrive.
Slip and Falls. Often the concrete or tiled walking area around public and private pools can become slippery, creating a risky situation where children can easily fall into the pool. Slippery walkways aren’t just a hazard to young children, however—they present a danger to all ages. If a person slips and hits their head, they can be knocked unconscious and drown. Parents and other supervisors should prevent children from horseplay and running around the poolside.
Improper Drain Coverings. Pool drains can become hazardous if they aren’t fitted with the proper safety coverings. If the drain has not been checked for safety compliance, swimmers can get their foot caught and drown. In general, parents should teach young swimmers to avoid drains.
Crowds. It’s easy to lose track of a young child in a large crowd. Parents should take special care to keep a child at arm’s length in a crowded pool. Parties and barbeques can also be a hazardous situation. Parents may assume someone else is monitoring their children, and the noise level may cause a drowning child to go unnoticed. During social gatherings around a pool, a chaperone for swimming children should be designated at all times.
All too often, people look at swimming pool injuries and deaths as tragic accidents. For some of them, this is true. But many supposed “accidents” could have been prevented if the owners in question took a bit more care with their property.
For the legal professionals at Lawlor, White & Murphey, this is not just an issue of making sure that you are compensated for what you have gone through. While that is important, we believe it is just as valuable to get pool owners to behave more responsibly and realize the inherent dangers that come with having a swimming pool. Only by doing that can we make our South Florida neighborhoods safer.
But our beliefs and mission are only one part of the reason you should choose us – the other part is that our personal injury lawyers are incredibly good at what they do. Members of our team have been recognized by organizations like Super Lawyers and the Million Dollar Advocates Forum for their success, and consistently maintain 10/10 ratings on Avvo. We do everything in our power to make sure you receive fair and just compensation.
If you or someone you love has been involved in a swimming pool accidents resulting from another’s negligence, get in contact with us as soon as possible. You can do this by email, filling out our online case evaluation, or giving us a call:
954-525-2345 (South Florida)
855-347-5475 (Toll Free)
No amount of money can compensate for a debilitating injury or the loss of a child, but accident lawsuits can provide recompense to help a family get back on its feet, and publicizing this issue may help prevent future tragedies.