Summer Swimming Safety Tips
Deep into the summer months, swimming pools offer a well-earned respite from the sauna intensity of the sun, and the steambath that follows a warm summer rain. We eagerly jump into swimming pools at hotels, resorts, friends’ houses and on cruise ships. Those who own pools usually don’t think about pool safety all that much, apart from supervising any children who may be using it. We assume, subconsciously, that other peoples’ pools, and especially those operated by businesses, are at least as safe as the one we have at our own house, and that the rules at home will be followed as strictly in a public pool as they would be anywhere else.
These are dangerous assumptions. If you think that checking the safety of a swimming pool before using it is unnecessary or smacks of paranoia, consider this: drowning is the leading cause of injury death among children ages 1–4 in Florida. Too many children (of all ages) have drowned without a capable supervisor watching the area, and others have drowned while those nearby confused horseplay with a deadly drowning underway. Our team at Haggard Law Firm has litigated cases time and time again of drownings or near drownings that could have been prevented by those responsible for a pool taking the proper measures to make it the safest environment possible. And yes, many of these cases have been again apartment complexes and hotels.
Here are easy steps to take to ensure safety around pools during your summer vacation:
- Water Clarity – After ensuring that there is an attentive adult who could safely intervene if necessary, you should ensure that the water is clear enough to see the bottom from all angles. You can’t help people you can’t see.
- Safety Equipment – Look around the pool deck for safety equipment. Is there a telephone nearby for use in the event of an emergency? Most people have cell phones, but these days, the flat screens on smartphones can be difficult to use in a crisis with wet hands, or worse, when the rescuer enters the pool with the phone in her pocket. Little details like this are hard to remember when we are dealing with a life or death situation, so ensuring that there is a dry, working phone nearby is important in a crisis. Every swimming pool should have a lifesaving buoy to toss in on a clean, organized rope to pull the struggling swimmer to safety. Every pool should also have a “shepherd’s hook”, which is basically a long pole with a loop on it, so that a non-swimmer can reach into the water from a distance and pull a swimmer to safety from the deck.
- Safe Drains? Look at the drain(s) to the swimming pool. Make sure you know where these are, both in a swimming pool and any spa that people may be using. High volume water facilities are often cleaned regularly, and sometimes the maintenance workers fail to replace the drain covers after performing maintenance. When this happens, children and adults alike can become stuck underwater, unable to free themselves from the powerful suction of the drain. Make sure that the drains are intact, and wide enough so that a person’s body could not cover them up completely. Newer pools have dual main drains that help guard against this, but many older pools do not. (Scroll down to see a video on this issue)
- Capable Guardian – When going to any swimming pool, but especially a busy one with more than a couple people using it at a time, the first step is to ensure that there is a capable guardian. This does not necessarily mean a trained lifeguard (but that is preferable, of course). A capable person is one who knows how to swim, and who is focused on the young and inexperienced swimmers, and who is familiar with their abilities. This person should ensure that the warnings against running and horseplay are enforced. When everyone is solely focused on the party, it doesn’t take long before silly accidents turn into underwater nightmares, or result in broken necks and paralysis from poor decision-making. Unfortunately, too many people use swimming pools when no one in the group can swim. They assume that everyone will stay in the shallow end, or that meager arm and leg movements will be enough to get the person safely to the water’s edge. However, once water enters the windpipe and panic sets in, if there isn’t a capable guardian, then the others nearby are at risk themselves of drowning in an effort to help the person in need.
- Swimming Classes – Long before arriving at any pool, swimming classes are the best use of time and money to ensure that a rescue is never needed in the first place; after this, a safety check of the pool only takes a few seconds once you make it part of your summer routine. Take the time to address the real danger that swimming pools can cause to your friends and loved ones, and you will dramatically reduce the risk of a tragedy if an emergency were to occur, and you will also be able to more fully enjoy the relief that swimming pools offer this time of year.
Christopher Marlowe Bio
Christopher Marlowe joined The Haggard Law Firm in 2008 and was named partner in May 2014. Christopher handles a wide array of cases, including those involving negligent security, pool drowning, auto accident and wrongful death. His work as lead counsel on sexual assault, robbery, homicide and shooting cases, has led to security and safety improvements at commercial and residential properties throughout Florida.
Recently, Marlowe and Haggard Law Attorney Jason Brenner obtained a $12 Million Verdict following a 5 day trial in a wrongful death, negligent security case. It was named by TopVerdict.com as #1 Verdict in Florida in 2017 in the inadequate security category. Click for full bio
CONTACT CHRISTOPHER MARLOWE: CLM@HaggardLawFirm.com