Summer Injury Prevention: Swimming Pool Accidents
Summer is in full swing and many families across the country are headed to the pool to escape from the heat. Whether it’s your own backyard swimming pool or a community facility, it’s important to keep in mind that this fun activity can also turn deadly in a matter of seconds. The good news is that with a little bit of forethought and careful supervision, nearly all swimming pool injuries can be prevented.
Swimming Pool Accident Statistics
Tragically, unintentional drowning is quite common in the U.S. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control say that accidental drowning ranks fifth among the leading causes of unintentional injury death in the U.S. In fact, an estimated 10 people die each day from drowning accidents; two of those deaths occur in children under the age of 15.
Certain groups of people are also more at risk of becoming a drowning victim than others. These groups include males, children, and minorities. According to the CDC:
- Each year, about 80 percent of those who drown are males.
- In children ages one to four, drowning is one of the most common causes of death, second only to birth defects.
- Drowning rates are nearly three times higher in African American children ages five to 14 when compared to white children of the same age.
Types of Swimming Pool Injuries
While drowning is probably the first injury that comes to mind when people think about swimming pool accident, pool injuries aren’t just limited to drowning. People can also be injured by diving into shallow water, slipping on wet surfaces, and also exposure to harsh chemicals or contaminated water. Common swimming pool injuries include:
- Recreational water illness including Swimmer’s Ear, Legionella, diarrhea, hot tub rash, and Giardia
- Chemical burns from pool chemicals
- Spinal cord and traumatic brain injuries
There are many factors that will increase the risk of someone becoming a drowning victim. Time and time again, CDC studies have shown that having swimming skills play a key role in preventing drowning. The following tips are also recommended to keep you and your loved ones safe this summer:
- Always supervise young children when swimming or playing near water.
- Swim with a buddy or in locations that have a lifeguard, when possible.
- Learn CPR.
- Do not rely on air-filled or foam toys as safety devices.
- Always check local weather conditions prior to swimming.
Swimming Pool Accidents: Who is liable?
Homeowners and property owners are responsible for ensuring their premises are free of any dangerous hazards, including swimming pools. It is advised that pools have a four-sided barrier that will prevent unauthorized access to the area. Homeowners can also install splash alarms that will alert them to unsupervised children in the pool as well as window and door alarms.
It’s also important that property owners regularly check drains and drain covers in pools and spas. Anti-entrapment drain covers and safety shut off systems are vital to keep swimmers from becoming entrapped or entangled. Pools and spas without these protective measures may be in violation of the Pool and Spa Safety Act which was passed in 2012.
For more information about recreational water injuries, the CDC has a wealth of information on their website.
SafeKids also provides excellent tips for safety and swimming injury prevention on their website.