For many Florida families, the arrival of summer means one thing: pool time. Indeed, there’s no better way to beat the heat than to jump in a pool of cool water, and owning a pool is a fun privilege. However, with privilege comes great responsibility. Pool owners may face liability when accidents occur, so due care must be taken to prevent tragedies and injuries.
It may be surprising to learn that drowning can occur in as little as one inch of water. For that reason, children under the age of 1 most commonly drown in bathtubs. However, children over the age of 1 who succumb to drowning do so most often in swimming pools. In the State of Florida, this unfortunate event occurs too often. In fact, according to the Florida Department of Health, Florida loses more children to drowning than any other state: In 2013, Florida lost 7.54 children aged 1-4 per a 100,000-person population. Florida held the second-highest drowning rate for children aged 1-14, with a drowning rate of 2.54 children per a 100,000-person population.
Being extremely vigilant is important to prevent drowning. Indeed, unlike the image portrayed in movies of drowning victims thrashing and yelling, most drowning is silent and rapid. A drowning child will lose consciousness within two minutes, and irreversible brain damage can occur within 4-6 minutes.
The Florida Department of Health instituted a pool safety program in 2010 called WaterproofFL to help families prevent drowning and near-drowning tragedies from occurring. The campaign emphasizes multiple layers of protection to prevent drowning tragedies: supervision, barriers and emergency preparedness.
Here are a few of WaterproofFL’s key recommendations. First, nothing can serve as a substitute for excellent supervision. During parties and get-togethers, owners should appoint a pool-watcher to monitor all children in the pool. Assign a responsible, sober adult who is an excellent swimmer to watch pool-goers every single second.
After supervision, WaterproofFl recommends barriers like pool safety gates and locked fences to physically block children from entering the pool area.
Last, all pool homes should have emergency preparedness in place in the event the unthinkable, a near-drowning or drowning, occurs.
While WaterproofFL recommends these tips, under Florida law, all pool owners are actually required to abide by certain safety standards. Pool owners, for example, must ensure that their pool is protected from unauthorized use by having the above-referenced properly working pool gate with a fence and lock installed. Pool owners should also make certain that functioning drain covers, signs, and life-saving equipment are in working order to demonstrate due care in the event a drowning injury or death occurs. Even if a child trespasses onto a pool owner’s property, the owner may be liable for resulting accidents.
If you or a loved one has been injured in another’s pool, call the skilled premises liability attorneys at Brooks Law Group today. We can investigate your claim and determine whether you are entitled to any compensation.