The hotter the summer days get, the more inviting swimming pools become. A day spent with your family in the cool water can be the perfect way to deal with the scorching sun, but if you don’t take the proper precautions a relaxing swim can quickly turn into a tragedy. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that between 2005 and 2014, about 3,536 people died every year in unintentional drownings in the United States, making it the fifth leading cause of unintentional injury deaths in the country.
According to the CDC, kids 14 years old and under account for one out of every five drowning deaths, and for every one of those deaths five more children require emergency care for nonfatal injuries. The biggest factors affecting drowning risks are:
- Swimming Ability: One of the leading causes of unintentional drowning is an inability to swim. If someone doesn’t has never participated in a swimming lesson, or didn’t learn enough to become a competent swimmer, something as drifting away from the shallow end can be fatal. Even if the swimmer has some level of swimming ability, they may panic in deeper water and become unable to keep themselves afloat.
- Insufficient Barriers: Whether the fence around the pool has an easy gap to slip through, or the fence is missing altogether, young children can easily wander into the pool area and fall into the water. According to the CDC, properly fencing off a pool area can reduce the risk of drowning by as much as 83 percent.
- Poor Supervision: Even if the pool is staffed by a lifeguard, it only takes a momentary lapse in attention for someone to slip under the water. It can take less than a minute for someone to become unconscious, and only a few minutes more until they’re permanently brain damaged or dead.
- Not Wearing a Life Jacket: According to the United States Coast Guard, 672 people died in boating accidents in 2010, the vast majority of whom died by drowning. 88 percent of those drowning victims were not wearing a life jacket.
- Alcohol: Up to 70 percent of water recreation-related deaths involve alcohol use, along with one out of every four emergency room visits, and one fifth of boating deaths. The effects of alcohol, which negatively affects judgement, coordination, and balance, are increased when combined with heat and sun exposure.
- Seizures: The CDC reports that the number one cause of unintentional injury deaths for people with seizure disorders is drowning, the majority of which occur in the bathtub.
Time is of the essence when dealing with a drowning accident. Every second wasted increases the risk of permanent brain damage or death, so there are a variety of safety tips and preventative measures you should take before jumping in the pool.
- Make Sure There’s Adequate Supervision: Not all pools provide lifeguards, end even if they do, it’s important to keep a close eye on your children as they enjoy themselves in the water. By keeping multiple sets of eyes on the swimmers, you greatly decrease the chance of your child slipping under the water unnoticed. For preschool-aged children or people who aren’t strong swimmers, you should always stay within arm’s reach of them so you can rescue them at a moment’s notice.
- Always Have a Buddy: “Safety in numbers” doesn’t only apply to horror movies. Using the buddy system will make sure that someone will always know where you are, and will make sure someone is around to call for help when necessary.
- Take Swimming Lessons: No matter how old you are, you can always improve your swimming ability. At the very least, they can help teach you how to stay calm and keep afloat in the water, and at best they can put your child on track to challenge Michael Phelps.
- Learn CPR: CPR is one of the most important, if not the most important first-aid skill everyone should learn. A quick response can save someone’s live.
- Be Careful With Your Alcohol Consumption: Even though the 1920’s taught us that Americans will fight back if you try to take away their liquor, make sure you have a Designated Swimmer with you when you go swimming, and be sure to limit your alcohol consumption to safe levels. If you can’t even walk straight, swimming might not be the best idea.
- Pay Attention to the Weather: Whether you learn about an oncoming storm from the lifeguard or from the Weather Channel, make sure to stay clear of any body of water. Staying in or around the pool when a thunderstorm is raging greatly increases both your risk of electrocution as well as your risk of being knocked unconscious by a flying piece of debris.
Figuring out who is liable for a drowning accident may not always be easy to do. The best course of action is to hire qualified legal representation to assist you in determining who is at fault, and what your next steps should be. At Levinson Axelrod, P.A., our team have been preparing for your case for over 75 years. We pride ourselves in providing our clients with the legal advice they require in their time of need, and fighting for their rights at the negotiation table or in front of a jury. Contact us today to request a free case evaluation, or call us at (732) 440-3089 to schedule a meeting with one of our lawyers.
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