Avoiding Swimming Pool Injuries to Children

With the summer bringing with it record heat waves, plenty of people across Philadelphia and New Jersey are taking advantage of swimming pools to cool off. However, while swimming pools are a great way to escape the heat, they can also be the cause of serious injuries and drowning, particularly for children. According to the Center for Disease Control, unintentional drowning accounts for about ten deaths per day in the United States, with one in five of those people being children 14 years of age and younger. That number does not account for the number of swimming pool injuries sustained by children.

Swimming pool injuries can occur at a variety of places throughout Philadelphia and New Jersey, including hotels, public parks, water parks, country clubs, or swimming clubs, and private homes. Swimming pool injuries to children have become such a risk, that both the federal and state government mandate certain safe baseline safety measures. Yet, children are still sustaining traumatic swimming pool related injuries due to the owner’s negligence.

The three most common ways that pool owners’ negligence has caused a swimming pool injury to a child are inadequate supervision, defective conditions, and lack of fencing.

Inadequate Supervision

The amount of supervision at a public pool is actually mandated both by state law and federally. The state requires that an adequate number of certified lifeguards be on duty at a public pool at all times. The number of certified lifeguards on duty depends upon the size and capacity of the pool.

Defective Conditions

Many pools are kept in defective condition and not given the proper tune-up when the summer season rolls around. Improper surfaces surrounding the pool can be slick and cause slip and falls when children splash and then run around. Faulty equipment can also cause serious swimming pool injuries. Ladders where the grips have worn down and improperly secured diving boards have caused traumatic swimming pools injuries to the brain and spinal cords. Drain covers and safety vacuum systems that do not comply with federal safety standards can cause children to become entrapped and severely hurt their bodies or drown.

Lack of Fencing

With the high amount of children involved in swimming pool injuries and drownings, the Courts recognize a specific doctrine called the “Attractive Nuisance Doctrine,” which ensures owners of swimming pools properly secure their pools. Put simply, the doctrine recognizes that children are attracted to dangerous things and adults know it. Therefore, in situations where it is reasonable to believe that something on your property will be attractive to children, and it is easy enough to eliminate the risk of danger to a child, the property owner must eliminate the risk.

Swimming pools are the most common example of an attractive nuisance to children. Along with federally required fencing around the entire pool, the CDC recommends that pool owners remove all floats, balls and other toys from the pool and surrounding area immediately after use so children are not tempted to enter the pool area unsupervised.

Ultimately, a swimming pool can and should be a source of fun for family and friends, but it poses a very dangerous threat to children. Where a parent has entrusted the safety of his or her child to someone who owns a pool, it is not unreasonable to expect the pool owner to take simple common-sense precautions. Unfortunately, where the pool owner does not exercise such simple common sense, the swimming pool injuries sustained by the child are often very serious and permanent.

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