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Preventable Tragedies – Pool Drownings

We were recently reminded of this needless tragedy when two twin toddlers drowned in their apartment complex swimming pool; the result of a broken latch on the pool gate.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every day, about ten people die from accidental drowning. Of these, two are children aged 14 or younger. Drowning ranks fifth among the leading causes of unintentional injury death in the United States. Florida’s Heath Department reports that the state loses more children under age five to accidental drowning than any other state. Sadly that means enough children to fill three to four preschool classrooms – they never live to see their fifth birthday.

Many accidents happen in backyard swimming pools, but drownings can also occur in apartment complex pools, condominium association pool, public pools, hotels, resorts, water parks, campgrounds, and summer camps. It is the responsibility of the property owner (pool, hot tub or spa owner) to take reasonable precautions to make sure that his or her swimming pool is safe for users, or anyone else on the property, including trespassers.

While drownings are devastating to family member; nonfatal drownings can be just a tragic causing catastrophic injuries. Near drowning injuries can include traumatic brain injury (brain damage, memory problems, and learning disabilities), spinal cord injuries and permanent vegetative states.

Drownings often happen quickly and silently – without warning. It is important to remember that pool drownings are preventable. Here are some swimming pool safety tips and resources to help keep you and your family safe:

Tips:

* Do you and your children know how to swim?
* Has the pool or spa been inspected to ensure it is compliant with federal and local laws and regulations?
* Is the swimming pool or spa in compliance with the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act?
* Are there fences or latching gates that limit access to the pool or spa?
* Are there security features in place like house alarms and pool covers?
* Is there a lifeguard or staff (an adult) at the pool or spa to watch children and adults?
* Is there life-saving equipment available for use (poles, life rings, life preservers)?
* Do you know how to perform CPR?
* Is the pool properly maintained and free of hazards (broken or missing drain valves, warnings)?
* Do you have and communicate pool rules (no running, no diving, no roughhousing)?
* Are pool toys (floats, balls) secure and put away from pool area when not in use?

Resources:

* Center for Disease Control
* Consumer Product Safety Commission
* Pool Safety
* Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act