Poolin’ Around - Pool Safety
Written by Dayanna Mirabal, Pre-Litigation Supervisor at Rubenstein LawKids are soon heading back to school and stores are fully stocked with supplies and some are even stocking up on fall clothing. You may be thinking we’re nearing the end of summer and pool season–but it’s not over yet! As we enter August, there is still a solid month of summer left in the northern states, and the southern states can look forward to a couple more months, or more, especially if you live in Florida. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Every day, about ten people die from unintentional drowning. Of these, two are children aged 14 or younger.
Drowning ranks fifth among the leading causes of unintentional injury death in the United States”. Additionally, the Florida Department of Children and Families reported, “the state loses more children under the age of five to drowning than any other state in the nation”. With that being said, it is extremely important that we follow simple safety steps to ensure that a hot summer afternoon at the pool offering rest and relaxation, doesn’t turn into a tragic one and that these statistics don’t continue to rise. There are a number of different ways homeowners can reduce the liability that comes with pool ownership.
Pool Covers: Secure a safety cover when the pool is not in use
Barriers: Fences with self-latching and self-closing gates are the most obvious and commonly used form of barrier decreasing the risk of any incidents around the pool area.
The Florida State Legislature passed the Residential Swimming Pool Safety Act in 2009 with the goal of reducing the number of child drowning. According to Florida law, residential pool barriers must:
- Be at least 4 feet high on the outside.
- Not have any gaps, openings, indentations, protrusions, or other components that could allow a young child to penetrate the barrier.
- Be situated around the perimeter of the pool and be separate from any enclosure used to surround the yard (unless the yard enclosure meets the pool barrier requirements described here).
- Be located far enough away from the water’s edge (at least 20 inches) so that if a young child or elderly person penetrates the barrier they do not immediately fall into the water.
- Not be located so that a permanent structure may be used to climb the barrier.
- Use gates (if any) that open away from the pool, are self-closing, and have a self-latching lock whose release mechanism is located on the poolside of the gate and cannot be reached by a young child through an opening in the fence.
Removal of Distractions: Regularly check that there are no toys or other obstructions on the ground near the pool. As well remove any pool toys, floating devices and other things that may pique the interest of children.
Supervision: Make sure that there is always some kind of adult supervision when children are in or near the pool. Never let children use the pool alone or unsupervised, and remain vigilant and attentive when watching them.
Non-Slick Surfaces: Because pools and the surrounding areas get very wet and slippery, many accidents occur as results of slip and falls near pools. Pool docks, diving boards, and ladder should all be made of non-slip materials. Ensuring that the surface surrounding the pool is leveled and has non-slip coating to the cement will also decrease the likelihood of incidents. Simply put, owning a pool comes with a lot of responsibility and liability. In certain cases, homeowners can be liable for accident or death at their pool even if the proper precautions are taken. While these measures rarely totally absolve homeowners of the underlying liability, they can go a long way in preventing the accidents and tragedies that trigger litigious situations.
With five offices across Florida, our accident and injury lawyers are here to help you. We only handle injury cases and we do all of the work for you, looking out for your best interests. If a loved one has been hurt or injured in an accident, please call Rubenstein Law at 1-800-FL-LEGAL. We have offices in Orlando, Tampa, Miami, Broward and West Palm Beach - if those aren’t convenient, we’ll come to your home, office or hospital.