Premises Liability and Pool Safety Tips
Although the summer months are a distant memory in Massachusetts, the importance of safety around your pool doesn’t stop when the weather gets cold. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one in five people who drown are age 14 or younger and for every one of these deaths, another five receive emergency department care for nonfatal injuries related to submersion.
Whether you are the owner of a pool and are looking to prevent potential premise liability hazards or are simply looking to enjoy some time in the water, there are many steps you can take to ensure you and your loved one’s safety around the pool. Although some of these may seem obvious, it’s estimated that drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death in children ages 1-4 and that most of these occur in home swimming pools, so there never any harm in taking extra precautions.
Install Appropriate Barriers
If young children are likely to be in the presence of your pool, it is recommended that you surround the area with a four to five foot protective barrier to prevent them from falling in. Getting distracted for even a few seconds can lead to disastrous consequences. You may even consider going a step further and installing a pool alarm to alert you if anyone falls in the pool unannounced.
Never Leave a Child Unattended
Appropriate barriers aside, supervision is essential to ensuring a child’s safety around a pool. Even though actual death may take a few minutes, a drowning person can only struggle on the surface for less than a minute before becoming submerged. Moreover, more than half of the children who drown in a given year are only 25 yards away from an adult or parent. Just take for example the case of Alex Pierce, who earlier this year, drowned while at an end of the year school event surrounded by both faculty and other students. Even if there is supposed supervision, time can be short.
When all else fails, teaching your child to be comfortable in water is never a bad idea. Parent/child swim classes are offered at a very early age and the few extra seconds that they can provide could potentially be lifesaving. Moreover, since a large portion of the earth is covered in water, being comfortable in the water is a lifelong skill.
It’s estimated that up to 6,500 adolescents are hospitalized each year because of diving related injuries, with 70% occurring because of headfirst dives. Set rules against head first and shallow water diving to ensure that serious brain and spinal cord injuries don’t occur.
Warn Against Swimming Near Drains
While it may seem like a rare occurrence, having clothing or hair sucked into a drain can trap someone underwater. The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act, named after a child who died when the suction of a spa drain entrapped her under water, provides new regulations for covering drain covers. Even if everything has been properly installed and is working properly, teaching pool goes to stay away from drains when possible is the best course of action.
Knowing basic CPR can save someone’s life or help keep them alive until help arrives if an accident occurs. Although one hopes to never use their training, it can be the difference between life and death after an accident in the pool.
As mentioned above, accidents involving pools fall under the category of premises liability. Improper safety regulations or supervision can lead to responsibility for any accident caused on your property, so be sure to take care of all necessary precautions. Regardless of where liability falls however, keeping all pool goers safe should always be a top priority. For even more facts and tips on pool safety, please visit poolsafely.gov today.