Especially in Florida, families routinely gather and enjoy daylong pool parties while basting in the sun. Sadly, as the water splashes and laugher abounds, danger is ever present. According to national statistics, during 2005 an average of 10 unintentional drownings occurred on a daily basis. Over 25% of all fatal drowning victims are children younger than 14. In addition, for every 1 child that dies from a drowning incident, another 4 receive emergency medical treatment for a near drowning experience. Medically frail elderly persons also have a high drowning incident rate. Nonfatal drowning victims can suffer from a host of brain damage injuries, including traumatic brain injury and other neurological damage. Many times, nonfatal drowning victims suffer lifelong disabilities, including brain damage, learning disabilities, and memory and speech problems. Some victims remain in a permanent vegetative state.
Below are some additional sobering statistics:
- Drowning is the 4th leading cause of accidental death in the U.S.
- A child can drown in less than 2 minutes.
- Nearly 20% of child drowning deaths occur in public pools with lifeguards present.
- For every 1 child under the age of 4 that dies in a motor vehicle accident, another 14 die in a swimming pool.
- Over 70% of preschoolers that drown were in the care of one or both parents and were missing from sight for less than 5 minutes.
- Florida leads the nation with the most number of drowning incidents.
- In Florida, the number one cause of death for children under the age of 14 is drowning.
The majority of fatal and nonfatal drowning cases often occur in one's own backyard swimming pool. Bathtubs, buckets, toilets and baby pools are the most common cause of drowning for infants. Swimming pools, hot tubs and spas are the most common cause of drowning for children ages 1 - 4. Swimming pools, the beach, lakes, canals and rivers are the leading cause of drowning for children ages 5 - 14. Alcohol and drug use were present in over 50% of adolescent and adult fatal drowning cases.
In 2000, the Florida legislature passed the Preston de Ibern/McKenzie Merriam Residential Swimming Pool Safety Act. The act applies to newly installed pools, hot tubs and spas installed after 2001. The act requires adherence to one of four safety measures which includes 1) installation of a protective barrier, such as a fence, at least 4 feet high surrounding all sides of the pool 2) an approved pool cover 3) entrances to the property or pool area must have self locking and closing devices and 4) all doors and windows having direct access to the pool must have an exit alarm.
Tips on Preventing Water Related Injuries and Drowning:
- Avoid alcohol consumption while supervising children in or around water
- Avoid any other distraction when child is bathing, swimming, or playing in or around water;
- Avoid deep water;
- Install safety fences around pool with self locking and self closing devices;
- Learn to swim;
- Learn CPR, including your child's caregivers, nanny and babysitters;
- Swim when lifeguard is present;
- Swim with a buddy;
- Use life jackets.
Common causes of swimming pool and drowning accidents can include:
- Dangerous entrapment equipment;
- Defective pool equipment, such as a pool pump;
- Failure to have safety equipment around pool;
- Failure to install appropriate pool gate locks and latches;
- Failure to install safety gate or fence around pool;
- Failure to install slip proof flooring around pool;
- Failure to secure water fountain from small children;
- Failure to post no swimming, no diving or water depth signs;
- Failure to post no trespassing signs;
- Failure to properly secure property and pool area from wandering children and mentally challenged or disabled adults;
- Failure to provide any lifeguards;
- Hot tub or spa manufacturer liability,
- Negligent caregivers;
- Negligent floating devices;
- Poorly maintained swimming pool;
- Products liability, such as pool drain manufacturer;
- Uncertified or incompetent lifeguards;
- Unsupervised pool areas;
- Violations of building code, ordinance or statues.
Common injuries sustained in swimming pool and drowning accidents can include:
- Brain damage;
- Brain dead;
- Broken neck;
- Catastrophic injuries;
- Death by drowning;
- Diving board injuries;
- Electrocution accidents;
- Head injuries;
- Neck and back injuries;
- Neurological injury;
- Oxygen deprivation injuries
- Slip and fall around pool area;
- Spinal cord injuries;
- Traumatic brain injuries;
- Other personal injuries.
Common negligent parties include:
- Apartment complex owners;
- Condominium associations;
- Country clubs;
- Government entities,
- Homeowner associations;
- Owners of property that contain bodies of water such as private lakes, ponds, creeks, streams, canals, etc;
- Public pool owners or operators;
- Swimming pool contractors and builders;
- Water and theme parks;
- Other pool, hot tub or spa owners and operators.
You can reach Miami Insurance Claims Lawyer J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo by dialing his direct number at (786) 272-5841, calling the main office at (305) 461-1095, or Toll Free at 1 (866) 71-CLAIM or email Attorney Gonzalez-Sirgo directly at [email protected].