600 Drown Every Year in Pool Accidents
Approximately 600 adults and children drown in swimming pools in the United States every year, according to the National Safety Council. Of that number, more than half – 330 on average – drown in home pools.
Most people have a false belief that pools are safe unless someone is engaging in horseplay, misuse of the pool or swimming while intoxicated, etc. While these activities certainly create a hazardous risk, most accidental drownings occur when the pool is not being actively used.
Unfortunately, unsupervised children are often victims of drowning and swimming pool accidents. In the time that it takes to answer the phone or use the bathroom, a child can wander away and fall into a swimming pool. Drowning can occur very quickly and often happens very quietly. Visions of people flailing around in the water and screaming for help are most often seen in movies. Most people who drown slip beneath the water quickly and quietly and don't have the chance to yell or motion for help.
Private pool liability: Owners of private pools must secure their pool with a fence or enclosure designed to keep kids away. A pool owner could be legally liable for injuries if the children were not adequately supervised, or if they had no barriers that would keep the children from entering a pool.
Even if a child is not specifically invited onto the property to use the pool, the owner of the pool could still be liable under an "attractive nuisance" theory. Under this legal theory, if someone owns something dangerous -- but attractive -- to children on their property, they must it. A pool would fall under this category because it might attract a child's attention.
Those who are involved in accidents involving swimming pools have secured substantial recoveries as a result of their injuries. For example:
- A jury returned a $24 million verdict in Upper Darby, PA, for a three-year old girl who suffered brain damage after she plunged into the deep end of a swimming pool at an apartment complex. The two life guards were lying down and not supervising the pool when the incident occurred.
- An eight-year old boy drowned at summer camp in Philadelphia and his family recovered $6.6 million in a trial. There were two lifeguards on duty but one was in the bathroom and the other was on a break.
- The family of a 16-year old boy recovered a $5.12 million settlement. He drowned after he was taken by a school supervisor on an unauthorized off campus swimming outing.
When you are not using your pool, you must install a type of fence or gate that latches and locks, a pool cover that can be latched or secured, and an alarm that alerts the owners when there is movement near or in the pool. Failing to follow these steps could mean trouble for the homeowner and tragic consequences for the person or child in the pool.
- Gates and fencing should completely surround the pool and be at least four feet high.
- The gates should be self-closing, and the latches on the gates should be high enough that a child cannot reach the latch.
- Install and use a pool cover that can be secured and used whenever the pool is not in use.
- Make sure that members of the household know CPR and that rescue equipment is in good working order and kept near the pool.
- If a child goes missing, check the pool first.
- Install a pool alarm that can alert the pool owner when the surface of the water has been disrupted.
Read more about swimming pool drowning accidents.