As we reach the height of summer, our Tuscaloosa personal injury attorneys would like to take time to talk to you about the importance of water safety and avoiding swimming pool accidents in Alabama.
The Centers for Disease Control reports about 10 people a day die as a result of drowning accidents. About 3,500 drown while swimming, and another 350 die from drowning as a result of boating accidents.
In addition, thousands are seriously injured by near-drowning. And the data shows many will need significant hospital care for serious injuries, including brain injuries. Brain injuries caused by lack of oxygen can result in long-term disabilities, including memory and learning problems. Half of near -drowning victims treated in hospital emergency rooms require extended care, including those whose injuries result in permanent vegetative state.
Children under age 4 are at highest risks. And drowning is second only to auto accidents as the leading cause of death for all children under the age of 14. Swimming pool accidents in Tuscaloosa and elsewhere in Alabama may result from a number of causes, including:
-Failure of commercial pools to provide proper lifeguard supervision.
-Failure of pool owner to provide security fencing and other safety features, as often required by law and/or local ordinance.
-Failure to properly supervise.
-Defective pool drains or other faulty pool equipment.
-Alcohol and drug use, fault on the part of the victim.
-Lack of swimming ability/failure to wear life jackets.
Entering the long, hot days of summer, the Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a consumer warning to coincide with the July 4th holiday. The period between Independence Day and Labor Day sees a disproportionately high number of swimming pool accidents each year. Nearly 50 children have drown during Fourth of July week the last two years.
More than 5,000 went to hospital emergency rooms for treatment.
The CPSC says there are three critical water safety steps:
-Watch children around the pool at all times — Stay close and be alert.
-Learn to swim and practice water safety skills, such as CPR.
-Have the proper equipment, including fences, alarms and pool and spa covers.
Public swimming pools in Alabama must be in compliance with the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act. Virginia was 7 in 2002 when she drowned after being trapped under water by the powerful suction of a hot tub drain. The act provides pool and spa drain cover standards and other minimum required standards, including:
-Enclosure of all outdoor residential pools.
-Audible alarms on doors leading to pool area.
-Gates equipped with self-closing and self-latching devices.
-Drain disablement device.
Faulty drain covers continue to be a concern for safety officials. The latest round of recalls occurred in March, when the federal government announced the recall of pool and drain covers made by eight different manufacturers. The government reported all of the covers posed a possible entrapment hazard to swimmers.
National Safety Month Aims to Reduce Preventable Injuries and Deaths in Alabama, Elsewhere, Alabama Injury Attorneys Blog, Cross & Smith, LLC, June 4, 2011.