After one of the most brutal winters the state has seen in years, many Georgians are excitedly rushing to the pool this summer to enjoy cool waters under the hot sun. But while they do, they need to play close attention to water safety.
Swimming pool accidents occur too frequently and commonly serve as the subject of premises liability claims.
A pair of recent tragedies in the Atlanta Metro area underscores the dangers that can arise around swimming pools. As the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports, a four-year-old girl recently drowned in the Ansley Golf Course pool in Atlanta, and a Hall County toddler died in a residential pool only a few days earlier.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 10 people die every day from unintentional drowning. Of that number, two of the dead are children ages 14 or younger. In fact, drowning is the second-leading cause of injury or death for those under age 14 and the fifth-leading cause of death for Americans across all age groups.
More than half of the people who are admitted to emergency rooms for drowning-related injuries each year are hospitalized or transferred for further care due to the severity of their injuries, the CDC reports.
Drowning can happen quickly and quietly. Those who survive submersion may suffer serious brain injuries as a result of oxygen deprivation, or other injuries that render them permanently disabled. That is why it is important to heed safety advice when around swimming pools or other natural water sources.
Causes of Swimming Pool Accidents
Unfortunately, there are many ways to slip up when it comes to safety around water, including:
- Failing to maintain pool equipment such as the diving board and ladders
- Failing to cover drains
- Inadequate supervision
- Failing to properly train and supervise lifeguards
- Lack of safety signage
- Faulty pumps or defects in other pool equipment
- Poor lighting
- Failing to provide proper safety barriers around pools as required by law
- Failing to keep the pool deck clear of obstacles such as floats and toys
- Failing to maintain the proper chemical levels to keep the pool water clear and the bottom of the pool visible.
All of these can be factors in causing tragic – but entirely preventable – swimming pool accidents.
Tips to Stay Safe around Water
Regardless of whether you choose to hit the pool, ocean, lake or stream, it is absolutely essential that you know the basic rules of water safety – and most importantly – heed them. These rules in include:
- Provide barriers around pools. Experts recommend a four-sided isolation fence that is self-closing and has a latch that opens out. Separating the pool from the house and yard has been shown to reduce a child’s risk of drowning by more than 80 percent.
- Take swimming lessons. Some people are never comfortable in water. However, basic swimming skills and concepts could save one’s life.
- Know CPR. At least someone in your group should be familiar with first aid/CPR. The American Red Cross offers training for citizens, lifeguards and babysitters in cities across the country, including the Atlanta Metro area.
- Keep life jackets nearby. Even veteran swimmers can run into trouble in the water. Adults and children should wear life vests that are properly fitted. Arm floaties, noodles and other pool inflatables are not substitutes for life vests.
- Practice ‘touch supervision.’ Adults should always be able to touch the youngest swimmers when they are in the water.
- Feet First. Always enter the water feet first unless you have a clear view of the bottom and know that the water is of sufficient depth that you will not hit the bottom. When swimming in lakes or rivers, even water that has been safe on previous occasions may conceal submerged hazards that have drifted from other locations.
Enjoy the water during these summer months but remember to respect it. Water safety is essential, not optional.