Swimming is a fun, healthy activity and a great way to cool off from the summer heat. Kids and adults can share in the fun but it’s our responsibility to keep our children safe from swimming pool accidents. Sadly, swimming accidents occur on a fairly common basis and they can be deadly. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) each year almost 350 children under the age of five drown and 3,600 children end up in the emergency room after nearly drowning in residential swimming pools. Most swimming pool accidents involve drowning, near-fatal submersions, diving mishaps and falls.
Tips to Prevent Swimming Pool Accidents
- NEVER leave a child without adult supervision while swimming in a pool, no matter how shallow the water. Drowning is the second leading cause of death among children under 14 years old. Children under the age of five are the most likely to drown in an unsupervised pool with 75 percent being between the ages of one and three.
- Dress your child in a bright bathing suit and consider floating attire for added buoyancy.
- Install proper fencing to avoid unwanted access. The CPSC (PDF) has guidelines to help you properly install pool barriers.
- Once fencing is installed, always lock the gates to the pool when not in use.
- Enroll your kids in swimming lessons at a young age and keep them up through childhood. Private clubs often offer lessons but there are also some great public options such as the YMCA or a local Aquatic Center. Children under the age of three must be attended by an adult.
Federal, State and Local Pool Safety Acts
The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act is the major federal pool-safety law put into effect in 2008 as a result of many drowning and other serious injuries caused by suction in faulty or missing pool drain covers.
There are also many state and local swimming pool laws affecting private, residential and public pools. The laws vary but many include provisions about fencing, alarms, supervision and warning signs. Washington State has its recreational swimming rules outlined by its department of health.
Swimming Pool Owner Liability
If you own a pool and have friends or family over to play, you are taking on a big legal responsibility. You are obligated to keep the pool safely maintained or you could held liable for any injuries or deaths caused by your failure to follow the safety regulations.
1. Invitee – An invitee is a welcome guest in your pool who is there to swim for social reasons. Your responsibility includes adequate pool maintenance and proper signage to warn of any danger in or around the pool area.
2. Licensee – A licensee is a person who enters the pool or surrounding area to work; for example, to service the pool. The pool owner is legally obligated to notify a licensee of any hidden dangers in or around the pool.
3. Trespasser – A trespasser is a person who doesn’t have your permission to enter the pool, typically someone who jumps a fence to swim without your knowledge. The pool’s owner is not usually held responsible for accidents incurred by a trespasser but could be if they are aware of the trespassing and do nothing to stop it, making them invitees.
If you or a loved one were injured in an accident, you have enough to deal with. Let an experienced accident attorney fight for the full compensation that you deserve. It is not uncommon to receive a settlement from the insurance company that is five to ten times bigger with the help of a lawyer. Call the caring accident attorneys at Tario & Associates, P.S. in Bellingham, WA today for a FREE consultation! We have been representing residents of Whatcom County, Skagit County, Island County and Snohomish County since 1979. You will pay nothing up front and no attorney fees at all unless we recover damages for you!