Summer is in full swing, and temperatures are high. One of the most fun ways to cool off with the family is swimming in a pool, whether public or the one in your own backyard. A classic summertime activity, it is unfortunately also a dangerous one if the correct precautions and safety measures are not in place. Too many children die or are injured from pool accidents.
Sometimes, these accidents are caused by lack of supervision from adults, obstructive pool toys, running near the pool, or the inability to swim. There are plenty of ways children can hurt themselves around the pool, but if you take the proper safety precautions, you and your children can have a fun and safe experience while swimming.
Who is at most risk for swimming pool accidents?
Predictably, children are the most at risk around pools. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “more children ages 1–4 die from drowning than any other cause of death except birth defects.” Second only to car accidents, drowning is also the leading cause of unintentional injury deaths for children ages one to fourteen.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) released a report in June of 2021 called “Pool or Spa Submersion: Estimated Nonfatal Drowning Injuries and Reported Drownings.” It stated that between the years 2016 and 2018, there were an average estimated 397 pool-related fatalities every year. In the period of five years, 75 percent of fatal drownings were children younger than the age of five.
As we can see, children unfortunately suffer the most when it comes to pool accidents. They do not have the decision-making abilities to always see and know a risk when it presents itself. Also, children may not have the proper motor skills to be able to safely conduct themselves around a pool, and this is why adult supervision is critical.
Ways to keep your child safe around the pool
When we think of children’s water safety, we might automatically think of flotation devices such as water-wings or inflatable rings that we see plenty of during the summer months. They’re advertised in big shopping stores, often right near the entrance, especially if it’s swimming season.
The fact is that these floatation devices are not approved by the United States Coast Guard, and they can actually harm your child, offering a false sense of security and hindering their attempts to save themselves. In fact, the CDC recommends that you do NOT use these sorts of flotation devices to keep your child safe.
Natalie Livingston, who has been in the aquatics industry for over 25 years as a lifeguard, lifeguard instructor trainer, swim instructor, camp operator, waterpark operator, aquatics industry consultant, scuba diver, and water sports enthusiast, points out that:
Noodles, inflatables, baby circles, tubes, and all other items are not safety rated and should not be used or trusted to keep your child safe. We see countless videos of kids who flip over in an inflatable ring and can’t right themselves and are stuck underwater upside down, or are in arm floaties and can’t get their head out of the water because their arms aren’t strong enough, or who lose purchase of a kickboard they were holding onto for floatation.
However, there are some effective ways you can keep your child safe this summer, including:
- Talk with your kids beforehand. Before the first swim of the summer, talking to your children about the dangers of the water, and the rules concerning it, is an important step. Inform them where they can jump in, how to apply sunscreen, and other safety precautions. Try involving your children in the rulemaking process; ask them what other rules should be, and what other dangers there might be.
- Swim lessons. This may be obvious, but it helps save lives. If your child knows how to swim and float properly on their own, they will be less likely to drown.
- USCG approved life jackets only. Life jackets are often seen by both kids and adults alike as ‘uncool’, and children may be reluctant to wear one. The reality is that these floatation safety devices can save lives, and there are plenty of fun activities you can do while wearing them. Having everyone around the pool wear a life jacket can help the younger children feel like wearing one isn’t embarrassing or uncool.
- No running. Running is a good way to end up injured. From slip and fall accidents where the child hurts themselves on the hard flooring or ground around the pool, or falling into the pool, the injuries they can suffer range from scrapes and bruises, to broken bones or a traumatic brain injury, to drowning.
Following these rules and keeping watch of your child while they are in the pool can keep your child safe while having fun in the pool. Always have someone watching your child while they are swimming, use sunscreen, make sure they are hydrated, and – if possible – have them swim with a buddy.
The summer should be a time to have fun with your children while they are off from school. The pool is a great way to do that, but it’s important to do what you can to protect your children from the dangers of swimming. Making sure they have proper flotation devices, following safety rules, and keeping them under constant supervision while they are swimming are key factors to keeping your child safe this summer.
If someone else’s negligence caused your child to be injured at a pool, call Martin & Helms today. Our premises liability lawyers will make you and your child our priority, ensuring that you are properly compensated for your family’s pain and suffering. To schedule a consultation, call us today at 256-539-1990 or you can fill out our contact form. We also have an office in Decatur, and proudly serve clients in Athens, Madison, and throughout North Alabama.