Summer is upon us, and with it, comes the summer heat. For many, this means that it is time for fun in the family or community pool. For most, pool activities will be relaxation and enjoyment. But for some, usage of a pool will end in catastrophe.
The Dangers of a Pool
We do not think of a pool as anything inherently dangerous, but in reality, a pool is gallons of water, much deeper than the height of many family members, located just steps away from where kids play.
This is why pool safety is vitally important. This is especially true in Florida. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), as of 2007, Florida was the #1 state in the nation for pool-related injuries, with .7 deaths per 100,000 people. The next highest state, Mississippi, was at .4.
Although the CDC found differences between blacks and whites depending on age group, overall, the death rate was about equal, making pool safety something that everybody needs to pay attention to.
Safety Measures Around the Pool
There are some safety measures that someone can take, to make sure that pool fun does not end in catastrophe.
Fencing or netting: This is possibly the most important safety feature you can use to avoid pool injuries. A border around a pool can prevent children (and adults who can not swim) from accidentally wandering into a pool. Installation should be done by a professional. Most fences are made of netting, secured by poles, which are secured into the ground by inserting the poles into holes in the ground. A netting that is unsecured is not only useless, but could potentially be even more dangerous, should somebody fall into a pool and be wrapped around or trapped in netting. Fences should be four feet or taller, and many have a convenient latch to allow adults to access the pool without having to take the entire fence down.
Swimming Lessons: Although there is some debate on the age that kids should start taking lessons, some suggest that lessons can start as early as age 1. Whenever kids are ready is the right time. Kids who are comfortable in the water will not panic should they accidentally fall in and are more likely to survive.
Life Jackets: Even kids who are used to the water should be fitted with life jackets, as should anybody who is considered a weak swimmer, or who may have any disability or injury that would weaken their ability to stay afloat in the water. Remember that water “toys” such as floats, rafts, or “noodles” are not approved safety devices. Only real life jackets should be used in the pool.
Avoid drains: While not particularly strong, pool drains can be strong enough to suck in or entangle smaller children who may not have the strength to escape them. Avoid these areas, especially in community pools, where you may not be immediately aware of the location and strength of these drains.
CPR: If you anticipate extended time for your children in the pool, it may be worth your time to get familiar with basic CPR. In many cases, victims provided CPR on scene, without having to wait for an emergency vehicle to arrive, can avoid serious and significant brain damage.
Have a First Aid Kit at Hand: Aside from the normal items, the kit should include a scissors, to cut entangled hair, or clothing.
Make the Area Surrounding the Pool Safe: Not only can falling while outside of the pool lead to drowning if a child accidentally then falls into the water, but the fall itself can cause significant injury even if the child does not land in the pool. If the area surrounding your pool tends to get slippery, temporary carpeting, fake grass, or other covering or treatments can often be installed to provide more traction.
Use other devices: There is an entire industry of devices that can be used to ensure pool safety. Some include pool alarms that will sound when children get close to the pool or when objects over a certain weight fall into the pool.
The Importance of Supervision
Pool safety is a good opportunity to remind ourselves about the obligation to supervise children in a pool, especially if there are multiple children playing.
Many parents get in trouble when they invite more children to play in the pool than they can reasonably supervise. But remember, if you have others’ children visiting your home, you are responsible for monitoring them and supervising them, and can be liable for their injuries in the pool, even though you never signed up to ensure anybody’s safety.
Make sure that you ask parents about how comfortable their children are in the water and how strong they are at swimming. While even the best swimmers need to be monitored, those who are not comfortable in the water need special attention.
Rough play in the pool should be avoided, as well. This includes avoiding running around the pool area to prevent accidental slipping in or around the pool. Kids should avoid diving, which can cause significant injury if a head hits the side of the pool.
Do not use your pool as a babysitter. Putting the kids in the pool is not your opportunity to slip back into the house and get some work done. More than anywhere else, when there are children in your pool, your supervision at all times is essential. It takes only seconds for a child to drown, meaning that even a routine errand into the house, or a distraction that takes your eyes away for a short period of time, can have significant consequences.
Be safe this summer, and make sure that your summer activities do not lead to injury. Using common sense precautions can avoid falls, drowning, and other problems. If you are injured in or around a pool, contact the personal injury attorneys of Brill & Rinaldi today for a free consultation about your case.