Growing up, I was told not to swim after eating, run around the pool, or dive into shallow water. I had great parents, but times were different, and those seemed like three of the only rules a kid really had to know. Now that I handle swimming pool accident cases, I realize that children (and parents) need to know there is a lot more we can all do to keep swimmers safe. As a Columbia injury attorney, I have seen the consequences swimming pool negligence can cause. The following tips – adapted from a U.S. Safety Commission – are designed to inform and remind parents of the safety measures that can be taken when our children are at the pool.
- Always designate at least one “Pool Watcher” Going to the pool with your family should be fun. Meeting other families at a neighborhood pool, or having other children to your home to go swimming is a great way for kids to bond. It can also give you the chance to actually sit and rest, or even enjoy the pool yourself. Nonetheless, make sure that at least one adult is always watching the pool. Young swimmers can find danger in an instant - proper supervision can be the difference between a scare and tragedy. The most effective means of supervision in a group setting is to designate and know exactly who is in charge of watching the kids.
- Install barriers around the pool For families who have a pool in the backyard, and for all parents whose children visit homes with pools, do not overlook the importance of barriers. Fences and locked gates prevent young children from wandering into the pool area. My father has a pool in his backyard. There are brick walls on two sides, a gated fence on a third, and his home makes up the fourth side. If there were still small children living at his house, his backdoors would need to remain locked, with a beeping system to notify him when one of those doors was opened. While there is no replacement for supervision, properly maintained fences, gates, and locked doors are an important step toward keeping a pool area safe.
- Keep your young ones (and yourself) away from drains Some pool drains produce a powerful suction force that can trap a swimmer. When a child swims near a drain, her hair or jewelry could get caught. Suction outlets on spas have also trapped people – even adults – under water. Therefore, please avoid these dangerous snares. If you see that a drain cover is broken or missing, you should report it, and take your child out of the pool. Though some states have passed legislation to make pool drains safer, the safest option is simply to stay away from what could be a hidden trap.
I do not provide this information to scare you, or to ruin your kid’s summer by making anyone afraid to get in the water. I simply want to do my part to make our state safer by providing a few tips that celebrate swimming while promoting safety. Negligence can be reduced by sharing facts and putting safety first. If you have questions, or want to discuss a swimming pool accident with a Columbia lawyer, call me at (803) 790-2800.