Pool-related injuries and deaths are tragic events. Drowning and non-fatal submersion injuries increase during the warmer summer months each year. Nearly every one of these tragedies is preventable. Accidents can be reduced by consistent pool owner awareness and enforcement of safety measures.
Pool owners, by Florida state law and premises liability, are responsible for the conditions on their property and must take special care to safeguard and secure their pools. Unauthorized access to backyard swimming pools is among the leading causes of drowning deaths and serious water-related injuries in children. Pools are classified as an “attractive nuisance” pertaining to young children, so property owners are legally obligated to take steps to prevent unauthorized access to pools.
According to Florida’s Residential Swimming Pool Law, a pool must be fully enclosed by proper barriers such as at least a 4 feet high fence with locked gates and/or alarm mechanisms. Current and prospective pool owners are encouraged to read the entire statute to ensure their property is in compliance. A complete, four-sided isolation fence (separating the pool area from the house and yard) reduces a child’s risk of drowning 83% compared to three-sided property-line fencing; where the pool can be accessed directly from the rear of the house.
Swimming Pool Accident Statistics
• Drowning is the #2 cause of accident-related deaths in children ages 14 and under.
• Among 1,000 adults surveyed, 50% said they have had at least one drowning scare in their lifetime. 2/3 of that group says the near-drowning event occurred between the age of 5 and 15.
• In a recent survey of families with young children, almost 90% planned to be in the water during the summer months, while nearly 50% of them had plans to swim where there was no lifeguard.
• 19% of drowning deaths involving children occur in public pools with certified lifeguards present.
• One-third of adults do not realize that staying within arms’ reach of a child is much safer than using “floaties” or other similar swim-assist devices alone.
• The place where drowning is likely to occur changes with age. About 60% of deaths among children occur in swimming pools. Children ages 1 to 4 years most often drown in home pools.
• Of children ages 4 and under who drown, 70% are in the care of one or both parents at the time of the drowning and 75% are missing from sight for five minutes or less.
Many assume that drowning persons are easy to identify or exhibit obvious signs of distress. Instead, people tend to drown quietly and quickly. Children and adults are rarely able to call out or wave their arms when they are in distress in the water, and can submerge in 20 to 60 seconds.
Diving Accident Statistics
• Less than 10% if swimming pool diving injuries involve a diving board, most result from running and or misjudged distances.
• Zero above-ground pools are safe for diving. The American Red Cross recommends a minimum of 9 feet of water depth for head first dives including dives from pool decks. Many in-ground pools are 10 feet deep in the diving end.
• Over 50% of diving accidents involve the use of alcohol.
• 57.2% of all pool diving accidents occur in water 4 feet deep or less (standard above-ground pool depth), while only 4.8% of swimming pool diving accidents occur in water at least 8 feet deep.
• According to the American Institutes for Research, 16.8% of all diving accidents occurred from attempting an unusual dive or trick. Trick dives are hazardous and should not be attempted in a residential pool.