Florida has nearly twice the amount of coastline as any other state in the continental U.S. Pinellas County, alone, has 35 miles of beaches and many miles more of coastline. Additionally, pools are a very common feature of homes in St. Petersburg, Clearwater and Tampa. All of these things sound wonderful, but it also makes it easy for Florida to lead the United States in unintentional drownings each year. Many of these tragedies can be avoided through education.
Who is Most at Risk
Children, aged 1 through 4, are most at risk to accidentally drown. In fact, drowning is the number 2 cause of death for children in this age range. Congenital birth defects are the number 1 cause of death of children, aged 1 through 4. Children up to the age of 14 make up the second largest group of accidental drownings.
Perhaps even more frightening is that for every child who dies from drowning there are 5 more that require emergency care for non-fatal submersion injuries. Non-fatal submersion injuries can cause permanent brain damage. Even more children suffer other injuries that occur in and around the pool, such as cuts, lacerations, broken bones, damaged teeth, and neck and spinal injuries.
How to Avoid Swimming Related Injuries
At the beach most accidental injuries occur because the victim is not a strong swimmer or gets caught in a rip current. A rip current is narrow, but powerful channel of water that moves away from the beach at speeds of up to 8 feet per second. This current is moving away from the beach at speeds faster than an Olympic swimmer. Rip currents are dangerous because people get caught in the current and pushed further away from the beach. The people then panic and attempt to swim straight through the current which is impossible. If caught in a rip current, the best approach is to swim parallel to the beach until you are out of the current then swim diagonally to shore.
The best way to avoid accidental drowning deaths is make sure your children are strong swimmers. St. Petersburg offers swimming lessons for children beginning at the age of 6 months through adulthood. The swim lessons are reasonably priced and tiered, depending on ability. Clearwater and Seminole offer similar programs. Even though swim programs are offered to children beginning at 6 months that children up until the age of 4 are not ready to swim without an adult within arms reach.
How to Make Your Pool Safe
Pool ownership is wonderful and will provide you hours of entertainment. It will also bring friends that you never knew you had prior to owning a pool. It is important to remember that you may ultimately be responsible for any injuries that occur at your pool. Therefore, you have legal obligations that accompany pool ownership. Florida Statute 515.27 requires that every pool must have ONE of following safety features:
1. The pool must be isolated from the home with barrier that is at least 4 feet high;
2. The pool must be equipped with an approved safety pool cover;
3. All doors or windows providing direct access to the pool must have an EXIT alarm; or
4. All doors from the home which provide direct access to the pool must have a self-latching with the release mechanism placed at least 54 inches from the floor.
In my opinion, these are the minimum standards to which you must comply. I would recommend a combination of one or more of these requirements and I would suggest that pool fence be higher than 4 feet. Remember, you must consider your pool as a danger to uninvited neighborhood children. As the pool owner, you may be liable if someone sneaks onto your property and drowns in the pool. It is, therefore, important to think of your safety plan from that perspective, as well.
Follow Safety Rules When Using the Pool
Remember, you are responsible for the safety of the children and guests that use your pool. It is important to have clearly articulated rules that are followed at all times. These rules should include:
1. No running around the pool;
2. No horseplay around the pool;
3. No diving in the shallow end:
4. No diving off the sides;
5. Organized games are fun. Roughhousing in the pool will lead to injuries; and
6. Always have an adult who is trained in CPR monitoring the pool activities.
Contact Jones Law Group
Have you or a loved one been drowned or been injured in a pool accident? Contact an experienced St. Petersburg personal injury attorney at The Law Offices of Bobby Jones today. When you contact our office we will immediately set an appointment where you will meet your attorney and be provided with his/her personal contact information. If you do not have transportation or you cannot drive, your attorney will travel to meet you and discuss your case with you.
If you or your child has been injured in a pool accident which you feel was avoidable, should immediately call an experienced personal injury attorney in St. Petersburg at Jones Law Group at (727) 571-1333 during regular business hours or (727) 753-8657 on weekends or after regular business hours. We will evaluate your case for free and you will never pay us a dime unless we recover compensation for your injuries.
Jones Law Group
5622 Central Avenue
St. Pete, FL 33707