How to Prevent Childhood DrowningMarch 8, 2019 | Category: Child Injuries, Swimming Accidents | Share
Eighty-eight children were remembered at a Vanderbilt Beach ceremony in January. These children were the victims of childhood drowning in 2018. The first child drowning of 2019 has already happened in Naples. The Collier County Sheriff’s Office confirmed a 3-year-old girl drowned in her family’s pool. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that three children lose their lives every day or are involved in near-drowning incidents the result in life-altering injuries.
Florida has the dubious distinction of having more children drown than any other state in the nation, and drowning is the leading cause of death for children between the ages of 1 and 4 years of age, according to the Florida Department of Health.
Paula DiGrigoli of the NCH Health Children’s Coalition told WINK News, “It has happened to the best parents, and the only way for us to prevent this tragedy is to follow the layers of protection which includes designating a person to watch children at all times anywhere near water more than three feet deep.”
The National Drowning Prevention Alliance (NDPA) defines the layers of pool protection as: supervision, barriers, alarms, skills and education, and emergency response.
- ALWAYS know where children are. Never leave a child unattended in or near water in a pool, tub, lake, river, canal or ocean, even when lifeguards are present. Containers that may collect water (buckets, ice chests, non-used “kiddie” pools, aquariums, etc…) pose a serious drowning risk to young children.
- ALWAYS be aware of potential dangers in all environments, such as when visiting other homes, while on vacation, or at public/community pools. Survey the area for secure fencing, locked gates, covered pools and spas, and protected backyard ponds. Never leave your child in an environment with unprotected water hazards.
- Instruct babysitters and caregivers about potential pool hazards and emphasize the need for constant supervision of children and barriers.
- If a child is missing or unaccounted for, always check the pool or spa first.
For residential pools and spas, the first line of physical defense is to restrict unauthorized access to the pool or spa area in its entirety.
- Property line or perimeter fencing - In a home with a pool or spa, a perimeter fence basically keeps out the neighboring children and uninvited adults. While perimeter fencing is an important barrier, it does not restrict access to the pool area from the home itself. Unfortunately, the house structure is often used as the 4th side of the fence around the pool and does not protect those children who live in the house or guests invited to the home.
- Isolation fencing - Isolation fencing completely separates the pool or spa area from the house or other structures. It restricts unauthorized access from neighbors’ yards, other nearby buildings, and from inside the house. Isolation fencing is the preferred configuration for pool and spa protection.
In addition to fencing other physical layers are critical in preventing unauthorized access to the water in pools and/or spas. NDPA says these include pool and spa safety covers and insuring that access to pools and/or spas cannot be gained by ladders left in place or nearby furniture.
In addition to the physical layers, alarms are an important addition to creating a safer environment. Alarms can be added to windows, doors, gates and the pool to alert an adult of unauthorized access. While the primary goal of layers of protection is to prevent unauthorized access to the water, alarms are important to alert adults if access to the water has been made. Alarms can be your last line of defense and allow adults to respond to an emergency quicker.
Skills and Education
NDPA says “Everyone should learn to swim.” This is important, but knowing how to swim does not “drown proof” a child. Nothing will ever eliminate the risk of drowning.
Pool owners must always be prepared for a potential emergency around water. NDPA recommends having a phone available at the poolside. Anyone living in a home with a pool should learn CPR, attend a water safety course, and have rescue equipment readily available.
Pool drowning can happen in any type of pool, including hotel pools, water parks, and private pools. Pool owners can be held liable for pool accidents on their property. Florida law requires pool owners to maintain their property in a reasonably safe condition and to warn of any known dangers. Should the pool owner fail to do so, he or she could be held liable for any resulting harm under a negligence lawsuit.
To prevail in a Florida negligence lawsuit, the injured person, or family, must prove the defendant had a duty of care, the defendant breached that duty of care, the injury was caused by the breach of the duty of care, and there were damages.
“If you or a loved one is injured because of the negligence of another, please contact us. We have the experience to assist you and your family,” said Fort Myers Child Injury Lawyer Randall Spivey of Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A.
Fort Myers Child Injury Lawyer, Randall Spivey is a Board Certified Trial Attorney – the highest recognition for competence bestowed by the Florida Bar and a distinction earned by just one (1%) percent of Florida attorneys. He has handled over 2,000 personal injury and wrongful death cases throughout Florida. For a free and confidential consultation to discuss your legal rights, contact the Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A., in Lee County at 239.337.7483 or toll free at 1.888.477.4839, or by email to Randall@SpiveyLaw.com. Visit SpiveyLaw.com for more information. You can contact Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A.in Charlotte County at 941.764.7748 and in Collier County 239.793.7748.