Today’s Syracuse Post Standard reported on a study published in the journal Pediatrics concluding that, in the U.S.A., a child dies in a portable pool every 5 days during the summer months. Ninety four percent of the victims are under 5.
Drowning is the second-leading cause of death among young children. (The first is car accidents). But why so many deaths in these cheap, shallow pools?
I can think of three:
First, there are so many of those portable pools. Almost anyone can afford them. They sell like hotcakes this time of year in Walmarts, malls and other stores. With so many around, it is not surprising that at least some of them would become death traps.
Second, many parents blindly purchase these pools with no awareness of the dangers, especially to small children and toddlers. They don’t look dangerous at all — they look fun, and they are, too. The parents purchasing these pools are not required to take a safety course, or watch a safety video first. (Maybe they should be?).
And third, many of the safety mechanisms prevalent with in-ground pools, such as fencing, safety covers, and pool alarms, are not available, or affordable, to the purchasers of smaller, cheaper pools.
But the real cause of most childhood drownings is lack of adult supervision. Never, ever leave a child who is not a competent swimmer unsupervised anywhere near a pool. And if you are supervising, don’t get distracted in conversations, books, electronic devices or anything. Especially with very small children, you must watch with undivided attention. Drowning is usually silent, so don’t expect to hear screams for help. You might just read or talk your way through your child’s death-by-drowning. Drowning is fast – it only takes a minute or so with small children. That’s just a couple of pages of your book, or a little tidbit of gossip from your neighbor across the fence.
Since I’m a New York personal injury lawyer, let me tell you a little about pool liability. If you own any kind of pool, even a plastic kiddy pool, and a neighbor’s child makes his way to your property, falls or jumps in, and drowns, you can be held liable. Children are naturally attracted to pools and water. You have to guard the pool when you are not there to watch it. With smaller pools, just empty the water. With larger ones, cover, fence, and lock them.
And always, always supervise your neighbors’ kids when they are visiting and the pool is accessible.
Don’t be a fool with a pool.
Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org I’d love to hear from you!
Michael G. Bersani, Esq.
Central NY Personal Injury Lawyer Michaels & Smolak, P.C.