Articles Posted in Swimming Pool Accidents

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As the Fourth of July holiday weekend quickly approaches, West Palm Beach Personal Injury Lawyers wish you and your families a safe and enjoyable time.

As South Florida Injury Lawyers Blog has previously detailed, car accidents in West Palm Beach and boating accidents throughout South Florida will happen as millions of people will be enjoying the time off from work and the warm weather.

But other areas of concern, such as fireworks injuries as well as swimming pool and drowning incidents should be on people’s minds this weekend and for the rest of the summer.

Fireworks accidents:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in 2008 that more than 7,000 people were treated in emergency rooms for fireworks-related injuries. That same year, seven people died in fireworks accidents.

The data also revealed that child injuries are especially common when dealing with fireworks. Leave the fireworks up to the professionals. Gather wherever county officials will be displaying large fireworks and don’t use potentially dangerous flying fireworks or sparklers that can burn up to 1,000 degrees in your own backyard.

With drought conditions as they are throughout Florida, this can not only cause dangerous brush fires, but also cause injuries to the hands, fingers and eyes. The CDC reports that nearly 60 percent of fireworks injuries happen each year to people 20 or younger.

Swimming pool accidents:

But while fireworks are typically only used during certain holidays, swimming pools are used almost year-round in Florida, and certainly in the summertime. With children out of school, they are more apt to want to use the family pool or go to the community pool to swim and play.

Swimming pool accidents in West Palm Beach always provide for heart-breaking news reports, especially because most of these are preventable. Don’t assume your child will be safe, walk away and come back to find them at the bottom of the pool. It can only take a second and you may lose a child.

According to research by the Florida Department of Health, Florida ranked third in the country in its rate of unintentional drowning deaths from 1999 to 2003. Among toddlers, Florida had the most drowning deaths in the country in that time period.

These are sad statistics, but they go to show us that swimming pool accidents and deaths are preventable. An adult should always be within reach and make sure children don’t get trapped or sucked into powerful drainage systems. And remember, near-drowning accidents can cause long-lasting medical issues, some that don’t present themselves for months or years.

While swimming can be enjoyable and refreshing in the hot Florida summer, it can also be dangerous, so just be careful. Show extra care and don’t take for granted that your child will be 100 percent safe.
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The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) Pool Safely: Simple Steps Save Lives campaign is under way. TV and radio public service announcements review various water safety tips that will help save lives.

Our Palm Beach personal injury lawyers know the dangers of pools and spas and are not surprised by CPSC’s announcement that there have already been 37 drowning and 38 near-drowning incidents reported nationwide this year.

The CPSC Pool Safely campaign is a first-of-its-kind national public education attempt to decrease child drowning accidents and near-drowning incidents in pools and spas across the country.

“As the summer swimming season approaches, our message to parents and caregivers is simple: stay safe in and around pools and spas by practicing as many safety steps as possible. This includes staying close to children at all times, knowing water safety skills like CPR, and ensuring anti-entrapment drain covers are installed in all pools and spas,” said Inez Tenenbaum, Chairwoman of the CPSC.

The TV PSA features four families that were spared the agony of losing a child by the use of door alarms, fencing around pools and spas, knowledge of CPR and safety drain covers. The radio PSA promotes how important it is that everyone knows how to swim.

“So many of the drowning and near-drowning incidents that happen every year are preventable and every drowning and near-drowning is a terrible tragedy,” Tenenbaum said.

Pool safety tips:

Be Responsible
-Stay with your child at all times when they are in or near a pool or spa. Never leave them unattended.

-Teach children basic water safety.

-Keep children away from pool drains, pipes and other openings to avoid entrapment. (See previous blog Pool and Spa Drain Accidents a Danger from Fort Lauderdale to Fort Pierce )

-Keep a phone close at all times when using a pool or spa.

-Always look in a pool or spa first if a child is missing.

-Share your knowledge of safety instructions with friends, family and neighbors.

Be Knowledgeable
-Know how to swim.

-Know how to perform CPR on children and adults; update your skills regularly.

-Know what to do so you can assist in a pool emergency.

Be Equipped
-Four-foot fencing should be around any pool or spa, with self-latching and closing gates.

-Install pool and door alarms if your house acts as the fourth side of a fence that is around a pool or spa.

-Make sure pools and spas that you use have compliant drain covers.

-Pool and spa coves need to be in good condition.

-Keep life saving equipment like poles and life rings in close range.
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The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act (P&SS Act) went into effect several years ago after the child’s death from a spa drain entrapment. Currently an investigation is underway by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) regarding how flow rates were tested on pool and spa drain covers to comply with the P&SS Act standards.

Our Palm Beach personal injury attorneys are aware of the danger of drain entrapment from pools and spas. They know the force of the suction from a filter can pull a swimmers body part, clothing or hair into or against the pool drain. The powerful suction locks the victim to the drain and causes a high risk for a pool drowning accident.

There have been cases where small children have sat on drains and have sustained life threatening and fatal injuries from being disemboweled from the suction.

Massive amounts of information have been requested from laboratories that do testing on drain covers. CPSC staff is going over more than 17,000 pages of data covering testing protocols and procedures, test results and the type of covers that underwent testing.

It is hoped that CPSC can alert the public by Memorial Day weekend regarding which type of drain covers were improperly tested. Stringent flow rate standards are part of the P&SS Act and are vital in preventing deadly drain entrapment accidents.

Everyone that owns a pool or spa is encouraged to contact their pool/spa manufacturer and find out the type of drain cover you have. Make sure it is not the type that fits flush against the pool bottom, which is not an anti-entrapment style design. The Act requires public pools and spas to have the anti-entrapment style cover. Though it is not a requirement for residential owners it is wise to get one to avoid a potential drain entrapment accident.

The anti-entrapment cover is designed so that all the holes in the drain can’t be covered all at once. This is what causes the victim to be locked onto the drain.
Shockingly, kiddie pools and wading pools commonly have single main drain systems, which is the system that has the potential risk to cause a drain entrapment hazard.

General pool maintenance should also be a concern for pool owners at this time of year. While many swimming pools are used year around in South Florida, it can mean there is no designated time to conduct a thorough review of your pool’s condition. Addressing maintenance needs before a serious or fatal accident is the best bet for preventing a tragedy and a premise liability claim.
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In 2006, a young girl visiting the Wellington Community Center slipped on the deck of the 3-meter diving board overlooking the clear blue water of the pool. She fell through the railing and dropped nearly 10 feet before landing on the pool deck, sustaining a serious head injury that caused seizures. Lawsuits were filed, and in 2009, the family and Wellington Village settled the cases for $150,000, the Palm Beach Post reports.

At the advice of the Village’s insurance company, and to protect itself from future South Florida premises liability claims, the community chose to remove the board in May as the Center underwent renovations.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, recreational swimming and diving are the third most common physical activity pursued by adults in the U.S., falling only behind walking and camping as preferred pastimes. Across the board, swimming pools and diving boards hold a special allure for children who have access to more than 8 million public and private swimming pools nationwide. Swimming pool accidents in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach are a common source of serious and tragic accidents, particularly among children.

It is estimated that children and families trek to aquatic environments about 360 million times annually. And with access, comes injury. From 1990 to 2006, more than 111,340 children aged 19 and younger – or about 6,500 per year – were treated in emergency rooms for diving-related injuries. At 36.3 percent, 10 to 14-year-olds comprised the largest patient population. For this age group, collision injuries with the dive board or platform resulting in lacerations to the head, neck and face, bruising, sprains and strains were most common.

Children aged 5 and younger were most likely to sustain facial injuries, while children aged 5 to 10 more commonly cut themselves. Older kids – aged 10 to 19 – were more likely to experience fractures or injure extremities. Across all age groups, as expected, a diving board injury was far more likely to occur if a kid was attempting a trick, a complex dive or a back flip.

Given the tropical climate granting year-round access to public and private swimming pools, Floridians – particularly South Floridians – are drawn to poolside activities with far more frequency than most other Americans. Whether supervised or not, Florida kids spend more time water-logged than dry which increases their exposure to both the benefits and potential hazards that come with the environment.
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