The Florida Department of Health reports that drowning is the leading cause of death in Florida for children between the ages of one and four. Florida also has the highest rate of drowning deaths in the United States. It was also was third in drownings overall from 1999 to 2003. As of 2010, Florida’s total number of drownings was second only to California.
West Palm Beach just experienced a near drowning in mid-July. The Palm Beach County Fire Rescue crew was called to the St. Andrews Clubhouse on Lake Victoria Drive. Thankfully, the toddler involved was already pulled from the pool by the time the crew arrived. The child was then taken to the hospital for treatment related to the near-drowning experience.
Common Swimming Pool Accidents
Swimming pools are particularly dangerous for young children and those who may not know how to swim well or at all. They can also be dangerous for elderly individuals and even household pets.
Some of the most common pool accidents include:
- Child drownings because of trespassing
- Drownings due to lack of child supervision
- Swimming that triggers other health conditions (such as a heart attack, for example)
- Drownings that involve excessive alcohol consumption
- Failure to use proper life-saving devices
- Injuries due to hazards in the pool or faulty pool equipment
Also Read : 6 Tips For Hosting A Safe Pool Party
Preventing Accidental Drownings in Residential Pools
The Florida Legislature recognized the problems associated with residential swimming pools, so they enacted pool barrier requirements in 2000. The Act is commonly referred to as the Residential Swimming Pool Safety Act. The Act requires that residential pool owners take certain precautions to make their
- Residential pools must have a barrier that is at least four feet tall on the outside.
- The barrier should not have holes or other openings where children could crawl under, over, or through.
- The barrier should not abut the pool. Placing the barrier away from the pool will keep those who may get through from falling directly into the pool.
- The barrier should be separate from the surrounding property fence unless the fence meets the other barrier requirements.
- Gates should open outward and have a self-closing and self-latching device.
- The barrier should not be built in such a way that a permanent structure would allow children or other individuals to climb over the barrier.
- Doors providing direct access to the pool must have an exit alarm that has specific sound requirements.
- Pools must have an approved pool cover.
These requirements apply to any residential pool that was built after 2000, but even older pools must still comply with some safety regulations. Residential pool owners must meet these legal obligations to receive a certification of completion. Failure to meet these obligations is actually a criminal offense, and the pool owner may be required to attend a drowning prevention education program.
Civil Liabilities Involved with Drowning or Near Drowning Incidents
In addition to potential criminal penalties, residential pool owners who do not comply with Florida law could also face civil litigation. If a child or other individual drowns or is injured in their pool, they could face a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit that could cost thousands or even millions of dollars.
If the pool owner does not comply with Florida regulations, then that is likely prima facie evidence of negligent pool maintenance. That means it is easier to prove damages in cases where residential pool owners do not comply with Florida law.
If you or a loved one has been involved in an injury or death related to a commercial or residential pool, then you may have a personal injury or wrongful death claim. Speak to one of our experienced West Palm Beach wrongful death and personal injury attorneys for a free case evaluation. Call 561-687-5660 for more information or to schedule your appointment today.