Summer is nearly here in Florida. For many families, summertime is a relaxing
time. But for others, it’s a reminder that the dangers of childhood
drownings and near-drownings are all too real.
According to the Florida Department of Health, Florida experiences the
highest rate of accidental drownings in the nation for children under
five years old. Almost eight children out of every 100,000 people drown
each year. That’s enough children to fill three or four preschool
Fortunately, there are some precautions parents and homeowners can take
this summer to curtail the risk, and hopefully save one of those precious lives.
Drowning prevention is everyone’s responsibility.
Florida’s premises laws, or laws governing who is responsible if
an accident or injury occurs at a place or on a property, are written
in a way that protects both the property owner, and the injured party.
When it comes to keeping a swimming pool inaccessible by small children,
both the parent and the property owner can be held responsible for any
negligence that occurs.
A property owner must follow specific city and state codes specifying how
high the latch for a fence or gate leading to a swimming pool must be.
If the latch isn’t high enough, or if it fails, the property owner
could be found negligent if a small child breaches the pool and drowns.
However, homeowner responsibility doesn’t absolve the role or responsibility
of the parent. It’s common for parental absence or distraction to
lead to a drowning or near-drowning of a young child. In the time it takes
to swap a load of laundry from the washer to the dryer, a child could
fall into a pool and drown.
Keep your property safe.
If you own a property with a pool, even if you don’t expect to have
children in your home, it’s always a good idea to be on the lookout
for hazards around the pool. Loose or missing pavers, bricks, or foreign
or unattended objects lying around the pool could case someone to trip
or fall into the pool.
Double-check your gate or fence latches, and make sure they are “self-closing”
to prevent neighborhood children from accessing your property.
If you own a property with a pool and have small children, or, if you are
visiting a friend or family who has a pool with your small children, it’s
a good idea to double-check the barriers surrounding the pool. Also double-check
the safety mechanisms you have around the home, including the child-safety
locks on door and screens.
Make sure the required “pool alarms” on doors and windows are
property installed and functioning.
Be prepared in the event of a drowning emergency.
All the precautions in the world will not prevent every instance of a child
gaining unsupervised access to a pool, so it’s important that you
are prepared in the event of an emergency. If a child does fall into a
pool, retrieve the child, call 911, and begin performing CPR.
“Near-drownings” is a term used to describe a situation in
which a child is submerged under water for long enough to cause injury,
but hasn’t fully succumbed to drowning. A child may have a pulse,
but may not be breathing; or the child is barely breathing. This is called
Performing CPR and getting emergency help is crucial in the minutes following
a near-drowning. The longer a child is without oxygen, the greater the
possibly for permanent brain injury to occur.
Before you have that first summer barbeque, it’s a good idea to follow
these tips. Stay alert and supervisory when your child is outside, or
near a pool; make sure your pool is free of hazards, especially if you
have company over; and brush up on your CPR and emergency preparedness.
The adherence to any of these safety precautions could be the difference
between life and death.
If you or someone you know has suffered the death of a child due to a drowning
or near-drowning, contact our law firm for a free confidential consultation.
We may be able to help your recover for pain and suffering following a
preventable drowning accident.