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Drowning death of South Florida four-year-old spotlights swimming pool hazards

The unresponsive body of a four-year-old boy was pulled from a murky residential pool late last Friday, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports. The child was reported missing after he slipped out of his father’s sight.

Deputies responding to the missing child report used a helicopter and K-9 units to search for the child. He was discovered at the bottom of the pool and pulled from the water by a deputy who began CPR. The child was taken to an area hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Our Palm Beach accident attorneys and premises liability lawyers know for Florida residents submersion accidents are a concern, particularly given our geography and climate and the number of pools, spas and access to water sources spanning the state.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission between 2005 and 2007 there were, on average, 385 spa- or pool-related fatalities involving children aged 14 and younger. Between 2007 and 2009, approximately 4,200 submersion injuries required emergency care for this age group. Almost 8-out-of-10 submersion-related fatalities involved children younger than age 5.

More than half of the injuries and nearly three-quarters of all pool-related fatalities involving children 14 and younger happened in residential pools. For victims aged 5 and younger, percentages jump to 61 percent for injuries, and 84 percent for fatalities. Regarding victims aged 5 to 14, 48 percent of injuries and 43 percent of fatalities happened in a public venue.

KidsHealth reports that a young child can drown in less than two inches of water, making everything from the kitchen sink to a ditch filled with rainwater a potential safety hazard. (On that note, hot water can also be hazardous. It takes less than three seconds for hot tap water to cause a third-degree burn on a child’s skin.)

If you have a pool (hot tub, pond or spa included) at home, KidsHealth recommends having a fence that completely encircles the water source is “the best safety investment you can make”. In most cases, Florida law requires such a fence, as well as other safety features. Pool covers and pool alarms can act as a deterrent, but have proven ineffective in preventing drowning involving young children. With that said, perhaps the most important life-saving tip for a parent or caregiver working with children on or near property with water access is constant supervision. When water is involved, never assume someone else is looking after a child.

Other suggestions include:

~ Invest in swimming lessons. Whether you have a pool or not, teaching a child to swim can be a potentially life-saving skill.

~ Teach your kids proper pool behavior: no diving in the shallow end, don’t run on the pool deck. If you see a storm approaching or hear thunder, get out of the water.

~ Because seconds matter when it comes to submersion injuries, keep a cell phone with you at all times when supervising children playing in a pool.

~ Learn CPR.

~ If children are swimming or playing in a natural water system – the beach, the lake – make sure kids are wearing foot protection. Teach them to be alert to above and below water level hazards, such as boats or jagged rocks, tangled weeds and large waves or undertows.

~ Before letting your kids swim, be sure to check with the lifeguard station about water conditions and safety concerns.

The Fort Lauderdale injury lawyers at Freeman, Mallard, Sharp & Gonzalez, LLC have been successfully and aggressively representing accident victims and their families in Miami, Margate, West Palm Beach, Hollywood and Ft. Pierce /Port St. Lucie for years. Email us or call us today to schedule a no-obligation appointment to discuss your case at 1-800-529-2368.

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