With summer getting close, more and more people are considering visiting the pool to cool off during a warm afternoon. While poolside relaxation can be just the thing for destressing after a long week, it can also easily transition into a nightmare. According to the World Health Organization, drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death in the world. Around 372,000 people drown annually. However, avoiding risk using these simple tips could keep you and your family safe.
Keep an Eye on Your Children
Around 76% of drowning deaths in the United States every year involve children younger than 5 years old. Another 67% of drowning deaths involve children younger than 3 years old. Even portable pools can be a danger to children who are either incapable of swimming or too weak to hold their heads above the water. Young children are at risk of drowning more than any other age group because they:
- Haven’t yet learned to swim
- Haven’t perfected swimming
- Are too young to recognize dangers
- Are easily distracted/ curious and can wander away
Parents are responsible for ensuring their kids remain safe, but it’s not as simple as keeping eyes on a child at all times. Those with multiple children could be watching one child while another wanders away. In households with pools, someone could have left the door to the backyard open by accident, allowing a wandering toddler to roam too close to the water. Even when you’re in the water with them, they should never be more than an arm's length away. Toddlers and preschoolers tend to be heavier in the upper part of their body. If they fall face forward in the water, even with floatation devices, they may not have the coordination to right themselves.
Take Swimming Lessons
A survey conducted in 2014 showed only 56% of Americans could perform the 5 core swimming skills:
- Jumping or stepping into water over one’s head
- Returning to the surface to tread water/ float for one minute
- Circling around and identifying an exit
- Swimming 25 yards to that point
- Exiting the water
Those who are closest to swimming areas such as oceans, rivers, and lakes are more likely to learn to swim. However, in other locations, such as cold climates, swimming might be less frequent and, therefore, less commonly taught. In order to avoid accidents, it might be helpful to take swimming lessons just in case you encounter a situation where you need or want to enter a pool or other body of water. If you have kids, this might be an excellent opportunity to take joint lessons with them and give them the skills they need to survive if they accidentally fall into the water.
If you’re a pool owner, you will significantly decrease the likelihood of a horrible accident involving your pool if you build a fence. Four-sided fences around pools reduce the risk of drowning by about 80% compared to those that only have 3-sided fencing. For example, some residences only have 3-sides around the pool, and the 4th side is the house itself. This could be dangerous if the residents of that house have a small child who could sneak out the door to the backyard. If a 4-th gate was there, a child has no other means to enter the pool but to wait for an adult to open the door.
Keep Alcohol Away from the Pool
Even if they don’t intend to go swimming, some people enjoy having a few drinks while their friends swim a lap or 2. If they accidentally fall into the pool, out of horseplay or because of poorer coordination, a drunk person has a higher likelihood of drowning when inebriated. Alcohol is a factor in as many as 70% of all water recreation injuries and deaths. Not only does it lower inhibitions and keep people from making effective decisions, but it reduces coordination and also lowers body temperature. If you’re in a cooler area, a drop in body temperature could cause hypothermia. When you’re drunk, your windpipe is also more prone to reflex closure, which could be dangerous when coming up for air or diving underwater. It can also cause you disorientation and confusion, as the alcohol has slowed your brain’s potential to process information.
Use a Swim Partner
For people who are affected by seizures, drowning is the most common cause of injury or death. If you’re epileptic, you need someone to watch your back while you’re in or near a pool. Seizures could strike at any time. If you are in a pool when it happens, you likely will be unable to get yourself out of the water in time or prevent yourself from inhaling while underwater, particularly if the seizures result in unconsciousness. A partner can keep an eye on you and be ready to pull you out of the water or keep your head above the water until the seizure ends. He or she can also administer CPR if necessary.
The pavement or wood surfacing around a pool is often slick with water. Most public pools will have a warning sign that indicates running is not allowed. This precaution is designed to keep people from slipping and falling at high speeds. Running and misjudging distances when diving accounts for many swimming injuries. If someone slips and falls, they could fracture a bone or even bruise their brains, leading to serious head trauma. For people who hit their heads and fall into the water, they’re at an increased risk of drowning if they’ve lost consciousness or are too disoriented to find their way to the surface.
Don’t Dive in Shallow Water
When pools have a no-diving sign, it’s usually for a good reason. If people dive in water that is too shallow, they could end up with catastrophic injuries, such as traumatic brain injuries or spinal cord damage. Some people have even sustained spinal injuries so severe they were paralyzed as a result.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a pool accident, you may be entitled to compensation. Public pools are required to post warning signs and monitor behavior for compliance. If someone was negligent and caused your poolside injuries, contact an experienced Mt. Pleasant personal injury attorney today. Lawton Law Firm has more than 30 years of combined legal experience to offer your case. We strive to provide our clients with excellent service at all times. Our attorneys have represented hundreds of clients throughout South Carolina. Whether you have a slip & fall injury or a premises liability injury, our skilled attorneys can help. Contact us at (843) 588-5302 or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation today.