Swimming Pool Injuries and Deaths
Most swimming pool injuries and deaths are preventable. According to the CDC, between 2005 and 2014, 3,536 people drowned unintentionally in the United States. None of these were boating-related accidents. Each year, one in five children who are 14 years old and younger die from drowning. One in ten is injured in submersion injuries. Of the drowning victims of all ages, over half require more care or transfer to another hospital.
In 2018, just between Memorial Day and Labor Day, 148 children who were under 15 years of age died from drowning in spas and swimming pools. While it’s easier to keep an eye on family members in residential pools, it could be difficult in public pools, especially when they are crowded. Make sure your children have appropriate floatation devices or that you are right next to them in the water.
Swimming Pool Injuries
Nonfatal swimming pool injuries may result in brain damage—sometimes severe—that could lead to learning disabilities, memory problems or a permanent vegetative state. In some cases, injuries may lead to eventual death. Many of these injuries and deaths could be prevented by following pool safety rules and by making sure others in the pool with you follow pool safety rules. For example, you shouldn’t let another person dunk you in the pool.
Making Your Connecticut Pool Safe for Your Children
If you have a swimming pool or spa or are planning on putting one in, make sure the pool and spa areas are safe. Additionally, you should take a few other steps to lower the odds of a tragic accident, which we’ll discuss in more detail below.
Before You Install a Pool or Spa
Before you even start building the pool or spa, you should take some steps to ensure the safety of anyone that enters the water features. Though many of these are directed toward children, they also apply to adults who cannot swim or the elderly who tend to wander.
- Teach your kids to swim. Once you decide to install a pool or a spa, teach your children how to swim. Even if they are older, it is never too late. Children are also never too young to learn how to swim. Private lessons are best, especially if you are teaching a toddler or younger child how to swim or if your children are having trouble learning how to swim. However, keep in mind that because your kids know how to swim, that does not make them drown-proof. Accidents can still happen.
- Create a safe storage spot. Dangers associated with a pool or spa also include the chemicals you need to maintain the water feature. Make sure you know how to mix and/or handle the chemicals properly. Keep them under lock and key or out of reach of children in an area that is dry and well ventilated. Make sure you have the protective gear recommended while using chemicals including gloves and goggles.
- Learn CPR. Learn how to do CPR. You could end up saving someone’s life. Check for courses at hospitals, fire departments, or from the American Red Cross.
- Get the appropriate safety equipment. Store a first aid kit, a shepherd’s hook and a life preserver—the round type with a rope around it—next to the pool. Make sure it’s easily accessible and that everyone knows how to use the equipment to get someone out of the pool.
After Pool or Spa Installation
- Fence the water feature. Once the pool or spa has been installed, build a fence around the area. The fence will keep kids out when you can’t be outside to supervise them and will deter trespassers from using your pool when you are not home. The gate should be self-latching and self-closing and should open away from the area. It is harder for a small child to pull a gate open than it is to push it open. In New London, for example, the pool fence must be at least four feet high (Sect. 601).
- Install an alarm or security camera. Install an alarm or a security camera on the gate to the pool. If you install a security camera, make sure it’s the type that calls your phone when someone is at the gate. As long as you have a good signal, the system will call your phone and you will be able to see who is entering the pool. Because older children or uninvited adults may be tempted to climb the fence, it’s also a good idea to install an underwater swimming pool alarm system that alerts you when it detects waves.
Additional Safety Concerns
- Diving boards and slides. Get rid of diving boards and slides. Both are prone to causing injury or even death. Even if everyone in the household knows how to dive, boards may attract younger or less experienced swimmers; slipping on the board can cause serious injury. Slides pose the same type of dangers.
- Inspections. Inspect the drain covers and the rest of the pool area every day. Toys and floats that are not being used need to be stored away from the edge of the pool so that no one trips on them and falls into the pool. Drain covers that come loose could cause a child to get caught in the vacuum and drown. The covers should be round. Check them for missing screws or cracks each day.
Create Pool Rules
Last but not least, create pool rules and make sure everyone understands them. If you have guests over often, you might consider posting the rules at the gate as a friendly reminder. The rule could be anything you want, but should include:
- No running in the pool enclosure
- No diving
- No pushing
- No dunking others
- No swimming without an adult inside the pool enclosure
You might also add that any child who does not know how to swim or who has just learned how to swim must wear some type of flotation device.
Contact Our Pool Injury Lawyers
If you or a loved one has been injured or if you lost a loved one due to a pool accident, contact a Connecticut pool injury lawyer at Polito and Harrington online, or call our office at (860) 447-3300.