As the weather gets warmer, families are able to spend more time outdoors doing activities they love such as barbecuing, playing sports or swimming. Spending time at the pool with your family can be a wonderful way to occupy your summer; however, taking your eyes off of your child for just a moment at the pool can be life changing.
Each summer, too many children are victims of drownings or near drownings. Below are just a few steps every adult should exercise when watching children in, or around a pool.
- Assign an adult to supervise the children. Whether there is one or several adults in the immediate area, be sure that at least one knows they are keeping an eye on the kids.
- Remove the children from the pool area if you are taking a phone call or are going to be distracted, even for just a moment.
- Pool toys and floaties are not life jackets and should never be substituted for supervision by an adult.
- Be sure that your pool is fenced in and has a self latching gate.
- Do not over crowd your pool with toys that float on the surface, be sure that you can see any children in the pool clearly, without obstruction.
Two summers ago, The Glassman Law Firm handled a case in which a nine year old girl had drowned at a pool party where she was celebrating the end of the school year. While there were plenty of adults around the pool area to watch the children, no one was specifically assigned to the task. Since the adults were so distracted by their own conversation, they failed to notice that the young girl had jumped off of the diving board-- and never resurfaced. Once it occurred to them that the girl was missing; they wasted valuable time searching for her in the home-- not realizing because of all of the pool toys and rafts floating on the surface, that the girl was lifeless at the bottom of the pool. This situation was completely avoidable. Regardless of the fact that The Glassman Law Firm was able to settle the case for the highest amount ever awarded for a child’s death in that county, the grief of a lifetime still haunts the surviving parents and siblings.
In addition to these suggestions, make sure that there aren’t any objects your child could use to gain access to a neighbor’s pool. You could be the safest person in the world with the most secure, childproof swimming pool but a jungle gym or ladder too close to a fence could give a determined child an entry way into a neighbor’s yard.
During the summer of 2010, a six and three year old accessed their neighbor’s pool and drowned, even with the neighbor’s pool fenced and gated. It is unknown how the children were able to access the pool, however, they were seen playing with a stepladder in their own backyard before the accident occurred. During the drowning, there were no adults home watching the children.
Drowning is the second leading cause of death for children ages one to 14 years old. In 2007, there were 3,443 fatal unintentional drownings in the United States. When a drowning is non fatal, the child can suffer from brain damage that may involve long term disabilities such as learning disabilities, memory problems, and permanent loss of basic functioning. Don’t let your child become another statistic this summer. Child drownings are preventable and it all starts with a responsible adult.