Articles Tagged with “Swimming pool accidents”

Baby swimming lesson

A media report explores whether swim lessons actually reduce the risk of injury. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says children should not start lessons until age 1. Previously, the AAP’s recommendation was not before age 4.

Swimming lessons have certainly changed over the years. Parents are signing children up earlier, as young as 6 months old, to get them used to the water. A recent WBUR report explored whether this is all for fun or if children in today’s swim lessons are actually learning enough to reduce their risk of drowning.

As a parent, ask your child’s swim instructor about their goals. Experts interviewed by WBUR said the goal should be water survival and broader pool safety skills.

little girl swimming in poolBy now, many children are ready to trade in school days for pool days. Who can blame them? Summer in New England is the best time of year.

For parents, grandparents and caregivers, the transition to summer comes with responsibilities. Talk to each other and your children about the rules for pool safety now. Make your plan for watching children and keeping them safe. 

This is the most important of all planning. Drowning can occur quickly and silently, within a matter of seconds. Drowning is a leading cause of injury death for young children ages 1-14, claiming the lives of three children every day in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). There are others who survive but are left with severe brain damage and long-term disabilities.

Make sure your family is ready for the pool:

  • Pool Fence and Lock. If you have a pool of your own, there are state requirements you must meet. First, your pool fence should be at least four feet tall and be self-closing and self-latching. It must open outward. Read more tips on keeping a safe pool fence.
  • Pool Alarm. Another idea is a pool alarm that notifies you about activity near your pool. A pool alarm is required for pools that are surrounded by three walls of fencing and a house serves as the fourth.
  • Layers of Protection. Think how you can slow down young children heading to your pool, beyond just your pool fence. You could add an extra lock, an extra fence or shrubs.
  • Never Leave a Child Unattended In or Near Water. Supervising your child in the pool is your most important job this summer. Bring your cell phone to the pool in case of emergency, but set it aside and focus solely on your child. Buy a watch you can keep with you at the pool to check the time.
  • Watch for Fatigue. Make sure your child does not become tired and vulnerable to drowning or injuries. Take a few minutes of rest or leave the pool for a while.
  • Swim With Your Child. For young children, keep them in your arms and just let them get exposed to the water. As they get a few years older, you can practice “touch supervision” with them, where they are never more than an arm’s length away. Put a life jacket on young children who do not know how to swim.
  • Swim Lessons. Sign your kids up for swim lessons so they are familiar with the water and learn the important life-saving skills they need to protect themselves. At the same time, sign yourself up for a CPR training course.
  • Baby Pools. Empty and turn over baby pools after use. If you don’t, a young child could easily climb and fall in.
  • Inspect Pool Area. If you have a home pool, glance around. Is the fence in good condition? Is there any glass out (glass bottles or even glass furniture) that could break and cut someone? Also look for broken equipment, such as pool ladders. Make it a practice to walk around the entire pool area at the end of each day and remove any hazards. 
  • Keep Away from Pool Drains. Keep children away from all pool drains, pipes and other openings to avoid entrapments. Make sure your children are not wearing any loose jewelry, hair accessories or clothing that could get caught in a pool drain.
  • Diving Boards and Slides. Diving boards and slides cause a large number of swimming pool injuries. Do not install them and consider uninstalling them to make your pool safer. If you have them, make sure you have the recommended level of water in your pool to support them. Put out traffic cones around them and tell kids they are only for certain times, such as when you have more adults at the pool.
  • Friends’ Pools. If you drop your child off at a friend’s house, always ask if the family has a pool that is fenced off and look around at neighbors’ homes. Tell the parents who are supervising your child that you prefer the kids play in the sprinkler when you are not there.

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As a pool owner, you have a responsibility to secure your pool with a strong, adequate fence. Many property owners do so because it is the law and to prevent neighborhood children or trespassers from breaking in. But they may have a false security when it comes to friends, families and young children they invite over.

Many pool accidents and drownings actually involve invited guests, people we may know well and have over regularly. Let them enjoy your home, but block unrestricted and unsupervised access to your pool.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) conducted a survey of swimming pool accidents in Arizona, California and Florida. Data showed drowning was the leading cause of accidental death in and around the home for children under age 5. Most of these children – 75 percent – were between 1 and 3 years old.

Fewer than two percent of pool accidents resulted from children trespassing on the property. More often, children knew the pool owner, with 65 percent of accidents occurring in pools owned by an immediate family member. Another 33 percent happened in pools owned by relatives and friends.

More telling is what happened before these accidents:

  • Most of the children were being supervised by at least one parent when they drowned
  • Nearly half of the children were last seen in the house before the pool accident occurred
  • Another 23 percent were last seen on the porch or patio, or in the yard
  • Some 77 percent of children had been missing for 5 minutes or less when they were found

Adding an extra layer of fencing may make a difference in preventing these accidents.

Pool Fence Recommendations

Self-Closing. A pool fence should be self-closing and self-latching. It should open from the pool side and should be maintained so it can easily latch.

Fence Height. A pool fence should be at least four feet tall and four feet above the grade of the ground outside the fence.

Release Mechanism. You want to prevent children from reaching the latch. When the release mechanism is less than 54 inches above the grade, the release mechanism for the gate should be at least 3 inches below the top of the gate and installed on the side facing the pool. Also, make sure there is no opening greater than ½ inch within 18 inches of the latch release mechanism.

Bottom of the Fence. If your fence stands on a concrete surface, the clearance between the bottom of the fence and the ground should not exceed four inches. For fences on softer surfaces, such as grass, the maximum clearance is two inches.

Fence Spacing. The space between the vertical fence slats should not exceed four inches.

Chain Link Fences. For chain-link fences, the diamond-shaped openings should be no larger than 1 ¾ inches.

Decorative Fences. Fencing with decorative openings should follow the same standard as chain link fences and not exceed 1 ¾ inch.

Backyard Doors. Massachusetts requires pool alarms when doors from a home open into a pool enclosure area. For instance, if there are three sides of fencing around the pool and the home serves as the fourth side.

Pool Alarms. Purchase a pool alarm even if you are not required to by law. Pool drownings happen quickly and often silently. A pool alarm interrupts that process and provides you warning if someone is entering the gate.

Above Ground Pools. For above ground pools, build a fence on top of the structure as a barrier. Remove or lock the pool ladder when not in use. For another layer of protection, you can also add a fencing structure around the ladder and lock that when not in use.

Pool Covers. Consider a power pool safety cover to add another layer of protection. Purchase one which conforms to the specifications in ASTMF 1346-91.

Related:
Safety Barrier Guidelines for Home Pools, Consumer Product Safety Commission Continue reading

The long and lazy days of summer are finally here and many of us are spending them by the pool. We hope you enjoy these times with your friends and family. And please remember to think about safety.

Each year in the U.S., nearly 5,000 children under age 15 are treated for pool- or spa-related injuries at hospital emergency rooms, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Nearly 400 children under age 15 are killed in swimming pool and spa drownings. More than 75 percent of these children are under the age of 5 and the majority of these deaths occur at private residences. But injuries can happen at any pool where someone stops paying attention or is negligent, including hotel swimming pools, community centers and other places.

Prevent injuries this summer by talking about the rules of safety with your family and friends.

Pool Owners. You have a responsibility to keep your pool area safe for family and invited guests and to secure it from others. You must keep your pool behind a fence which is at least four feet tall and secures with a self-latching and self-closing gate. But we encourage you to go a step further. Try walking around your fenced-in pool area. Are there areas where a young child could easily get in on their own? If so, make adjustments.

If you have questions, a good resource is your town’s local building department.

Drain Covers. Keep children away from pool drains, pipes and other openings which could cause entrapment.

Home Spa Safety. If you have a home spa, install and use a child-proof locked safety cover to keep children out.

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Watch Children Closely. Before the swimming season, learn CPR. Then when you head to the pool, set aside all distractions and watch the children. Avoid distractions such as reading, cell phone calls, and texting–supervision should be treated like a job.

When supervising young children, swim with them and practice “touch supervision.” For older children, watch them and be involved with them even if you are not swimming. Talk to them and let them know if they are doing something they should not be. If you are part of a group of adults watching children swim, designate someone the “pool watcher” so that the children are supervised at all times. But still supervise your own children at all times.

Likewise, at hotel and community pools, do not rely on lifeguards to watch your children.

Dress Children Appropriately. Make sure children are not wearing swimming suits or hair accessories that can get caught in pool drains or other openings.

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Poolside Toys. Many pool accidents involve diving board, sports equipment, rafts and pool slides. Always look before you use. If something looks unsteady, do not use it.

Many pools no longer have diving boards because homeowner’s insurance companies have stopped providing coverage for them. But if you are going to dive, make sure the water is at least 10 feet deep.

Avoid portable pool slides, inflatable toys and using backyard trampolines with the pool. These products may not be designed for use with a pool or may be defective. In one Massachusetts case, a Colorado woman visiting the state died in 2006 after she slid down a Banzai brand inflatable slide at a backyard pool. It partially deflated, causing her to strike her head on concrete by the pool. The Consumer Product Safety Commission later recalled 21,000 of the Banzai brand inflatable slides and continues to recall unsafe pool toys and equipment each year.

Broken Glass. Do not bring beer bottles and glass out to the pool. Serious accidents can happen if the glass breaks in or near the pool and someone steps in it. If there is broken glass in the pool, it will be invisible and therefore impossible to find safely. Beyond injury, you will have a lot of clean-up. First you will have to drain the pool and then you will have to sweep it thoroughly.
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Swimming pool behind a fence

After another long winter here in Massachusetts, many of us are looking forward to some time by the pool. Whether you are a homeowner or a pool guest, take time to consider the rules of safety now so you can enjoy this time of year.

As a homeowner, you have a responsibility to keep your home reasonably safe for your family and your invited guests. If you own a pool, you have additional legal responsibilities to keep the swimming area safe. A safe swimming pool is critically important when children live at home or will be visiting. In fact, one third of all children who die between the ages of one and four are drowning victims in pools and spas, and hundreds more are critically injured.

Massachusetts regulates home swimming pools very closely. Here are some of the legal requirements and some common sense tips for the poolside.

Fencing. The law in Massachusetts requires homeowners to enclose pools with a fence at least four feet tall. It must have a self-closing lock which opens outward from the pool. Homes with a back door that opens onto a pool deck must have a pool alarm. 

Diving Boards. Diving into a pool presents the risk of severe personal injury due to head and neck injuries. Diving boards are regulated for their size and height over water, and the water should be at least nine feet deep in the diving area. Shallow areas should be marked to prevent diving board injuries. Many insurance companies will request that your remove your diving board entirely as a safety precaution.

Pool Drains. Ask the pool owner where all the pool drains and suctions are and make sure your child steers clear of them. When a child is pulled into suction, they can become entrapped with a strong force, causing drowning and death. Make sure your child is not wearing any loose hair accessories or a bathing suit with loose straps that could get pulled in. Federal law changed in 2008, requiring public pools to start using drain covers to reduce suction deaths, but private homeowners may not have made the change.

Portable and Inflatable Pools. Though they are much smaller than in-ground pools, portable and inflatable pools can pose serious risks for injury, especially to toddlers.

Pool Slides. Whether it is a fixture or an inflatable, ask yourself if a slide looks like it can support you without tipping over. Ask the homeowner how long they have had the slide and if there have been any problems. In 2006, a woman died in Massachusetts after using a Banzai brand inflatable slide. The now-recalled slide collapsed under her as she slid down. She struck her head and later died. 

Watch Children Closely. Give your children your complete attention while they are near the pool. Drowning claims more lives among children ages 1 to 4 than any other cause except birth defects, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is the second leading cause of unintentional injury-related death for children and teens ages 1 to 14. Set aside your cell phone, magazines and other distractions and watch your children. If you are in a group of adults, take turns being the “pool watcher.” Have that person step a few feet away from the conversation and concentrate solely on watching the children.

Poolside Toys. Avoid any toy or equipment that is not meant for use at the pool, including trampolines. Inspect all equipment before use. 

 

Broken Glass. Serious accidents can happen when beer bottles and other glass are used near the pool. Broken glass at the poolside is obviously dangerous, so it makes sense to use only plastic or metal containers near the pool. Glass in the pool is even more dangerous–clear glass simply cannot be seen in the water, and will be a serious hazard to anybody using the pool. If there is broken glass in the pool, the only safe remedy is to drain the pool to sweep it out.

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pool.jpgWith the warm weather and pool season upon us, we wanted to take a moment to discuss important pool safety precautions to prevent injuries and drowning.

A swimming pool holds many risks for injuries, from defective equipment to unsecured locks. The biggest hazard, of course, is drowning. Drowning is the leading cause of death for young children ages 1 to 4 in the U.S. and the fifth leading cause of unintentional injury death for people of all ages. In children under 15, non-fatal drowning is more common than drowning. Non-fatal drowning happens when the brain loses oxygen due to submersion. This can cause brain damage and long-term disabilities.

In many cases, drowning and other pool-side injuries can be prevented if everyone using your pool is closely monitored at all times and your equipment complies with safety guidelines. The Boston personal injury lawyers at Breakstone, White & Gluck share these tips for pool owners:

Fencing. Residential pools must be secured by a fence at least four-feet tall. More than half of all swimming pool drownings among young children could be prevented by four-sided fencing that separates the pool from the house and yard. The fence should have self-closing and self-latching gates that open outward.

If your house serves as a fourth side of a fence around a pool, install door alarms and always use them.

Pool Alarms. Install pool and gate alarms to alert you when children go near your pool.

Drain Entrapments. Keep children away from drains, pipes and other openings to avoid entrapments. Purchase drain covers that comply with the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act. The federal law covers pools which are open to the public, apartment complexes and hotels, but you can purchase these covers for your residential pool. Ask your local pool supplier or visit PoolSafely.gov.

Diving Boards. Never install a diving board for an above-ground pool. If you install one on your in-ground pool, make sure the water is at least 10 to 12 feet deep. Diving is a leading cause of neck and spinal cord injuries. Check with your insurance agent or insurance broker to see if any special precautions are required under your homeowners insurance policy.

Pool Inspection. Call your pool dealer or local board of health and ask for the name of a pool safety inspector.

Telephone. Always keep a telephone outside near the pool in case of emergency.

Glass. Never allow glass in or near the pool. Broken glass is dangerous in the area around the pool, but even more dangerous in the pool itself where it can be completely invisible. We know from the cases that we have handled that broken glass in a pool can lead to serious personal injuries.

Watch Children Swim. Always make sure someone is watching children swim. Assign at least one adult to the task of watching the children.
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inflatablepoolB.jpgA surprising study published last month revealed that one child in the U.S. dies every five days in portable swimming pools during the warm weather months.

The study published in the journal Pediatrics challenges the popular idea that in-ground swimming pools pose a much larger safety risk. This study is significant because drowning has become the second leading cause of death among children age one to 14, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The study reports 209 deaths and 35 near-drownings of children under 12 in portable pools from 2001 through 2009. More than 90 percent of the children were under 5 and 81 percent of the swimming pool accidents occurred during the summer months.

The study’s classification of portable pools includes small wading pools less than 18 inches deep, inflatable pools and other soft-sided pools up to four feet deep. The study was conducted by National Hospital and Independent Safety Consulting in Rockville, Maryland. Researchers say the findings are comparable to in-ground pool drownings.

Researchers say owners of portable pools often fail to take the same safety precautions as those who own in-ground pools. They set pools up quickly without taking the time to install fencing, pool alarms, safety covers and lockable ladders.

The numbers also show in many cases, children are swimming in portable pools without adult supervision. Children were supervised by parents in only 43 percent of the drownings and swimming pool accidents. Parents were home 73 percent of the time.

Read more about the study published in Pediatrics. Continue reading