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South Florida Swimming Pool Safety: Infant’s Near-Drowning Highlights Winter Risks

Parents of a 1-year-old baby boy are hugging him a bit tighter tonight.

Our Vero Beach personal injury lawyers understand that the boy had been found in a backyard swimming pool, floating and unresponsive. We don’t know yet whether the incident was at the boy’s home or whether he was at someone else’s home. We also don’t know how long he may have been in the water.

What we do know is that a bystander rushed to the child’s aid, performing CPR until county emergency crews could arrive. By the time an ambulance loaded the boy up for transportation to the hospital, they say he was alert and breathing. This is probably in no small part due to the quick action of bystanders.

Police aren’t planning to pursue any criminal charges, but it’s important for everyone with young children and all pool owners to understand that such incidents are 100 percent preventable.

The Department of Children and Families reported that 32 children drowned in Florida in 2011. Of those, eight were in Broward and three were in Palm Beach County, according to the Sun-Sentinel. (Some researchers contend the number is actually higher, as only those flagged by the Department of Children and Families are counted.) Regardless, drownings accounted for 25 percent of all child deaths in Florida that year, and the vast majority of these incidents happened when babies or young children fell into swimming pools.

In Florida, this is a greater consideration than many other places because not only are we surrounded by bodies of water, many more homes have pools they can enjoy year-round. But pool owners as well as parents have a responsibility to do all they can to prevent a tragedy. In many cases, visiting residents and tourists are not as well-versed in pool safety and may be at even higher risk for a winter pool accident.

Pool owners – even those without children – should consider implementing the following:

–Installing a fence, at least 4-feet tall – around the pool or hot tub. Use self-closing, self-latching gates, and ask your neighbors to kindly do the same.
–Install – and use – a lockable safety cover on your hot tub.
–Install door alarms if the back of your home essentially serves as the fourth side of a fence around the pool. If you have small children, it may even be a good idea to install guards on any nearby windows.
–Make sure your hot tub and spa have compliant drain covers.
–Consider installing an underwater alarm or surface wave.

Parents or caretakers should know that if a small child suddenly goes missing, the very first place they should look is the pool. In these situations, seconds can be critical.

Children, especially those living in Florida, should be taught to swim at a young age, and they should be supervised around the water. Lastly, it’s a good idea for everyone to know CPR. As this situation clearly illustrates, it could be the difference between life and death.

Freeman, Mallard, Sharp & Gonzalez — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights.

Additional Resources:
Melbourne boy alert after pool accident, Feb. 1, 2013, By Stacey Barchenger, Florida Today

More Blog Entries:
Resolve to Avoid Pedestrian and Bike Accidents in 2013, Jan. 1, 2013, Vero Beach Personal Injury Lawyer Blog

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