If you have kids, grandkids or remember when you were a kid, you know that a swimming pool can provide hours of non-stop fun and recreation that makes a hot summer day an all-out blast. In Florida, swimming pools are featured in nearly every home. But with the fun and visual allure of cool blue waters softly rippling in your backyard patio space comes the responsibility to make sure that every precaution is in place to make your swimming pool safe and not a risk of tragedy.
Fence or Screen
The most important part of pool ownership and responsibility is a proper barrier between the pool and those who should not be in the water. Obviously, kids can present a serious drowning risk. Pool fences must therefore comply with code requirements to protect children from having access to a pool unless there is proper adult supervision. Code requires a minimum fence height of 4 feet and self-closing, self-locking gates that are more than 4 feet, 6 inches high. These minimum height requirements must be increased if a bottom rail raised above the ground is part of the fence construction.
A code approved child safety fence that extends around the entire perimeter of the pool meets these requirements. However, any fence or screen that does not create a barrier between the home and the pool will require doors and windows with an automated chime to alert that the pool area is being accessed.
In 2007 the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act was passed into law nationwide requiring technology to prevent the hidden danger of pool and spa drains that could injure anyone by trapping them to the drain by suction. Many children and even some adults have died by swimming pool drains that posed this danger. Unless you know that the swimming pool has a safe drain, always warn children to stay away and do not touch the drain at the bottom of the pool.
Never dive into a swimming pool. Too often children, and some adults, make the mistake of believing that it is safe to dive head-first into a swimming pool. Unfortunately, tragic injuries including paralysis, head injuries or death can result from diving into a pool and hitting the hard surface of the pool bottom. If you have children, warn them every time they go swimming in a swimming pool to never dive into the pool, even in the deep end!
The best way to avoid a drowning injury is to make sure that children are taught how to swim. Even infants can be taught how to survive the water of a swimming pool with an ISR certified instructor. But even when children know how to swim and infants are ISR certified, accidents can happen. Be prepared and become certified in CPR so that you can confidently perform life-saving measures on adults and children. And if you’re uncertain, you can always rely on a certified lifeguard on duty.
Never let your guard down
Even after a fun day of swimming without incident, kids can suffer from the rare but sometimes fatal injury of “dry drowning,” or “secondary drowning.” These medical conditions can occur to children who have been swimming and accidentally breathe in water. At first, a child appears fine, even hours after being out of the water. Parents and adults supervising children should be aware to look for signs that a child may not be breathing easily or if they become lethargic or feverish. At the first sign of a problem, a child must be given professional medical attention. Only by paying attention and knowing what to look for can you avoid a severe injury and tragic outcome.
Knowing how to be safe and keep your children safe gives you the peace of mind to have a fun day in the pool. We’re blessed with sunshine and warm weather throughout the year and we should enjoy the opportunities for our children and for ourselves to go swimming!
Everyone is safe when we take personal responsibility for ourselves and our loved ones. Perenich Law Injury Attorneys has successfully recovered against those who are negligent when it comes to swimming pool safety. Together with my brothers, Tim and Greg, we are always ready to hold the negligent accountable for swimming pool and drowning injuries. Please call if you would like more information or guidance regarding this important issue.
– Terence A. Perenich, Esquire