- October 22, 2018
- Attorney Matt Stoddard
- Premises Liability
Taking a swim is a great way to stay cool and keep in shape in the summer, but it’s easy to become wary of this pastime amid the many reports of fatal drowning. Here in Atlanta, the last few years have been especially rough on that front.
In 2014, a 4-year-old girl drowned during a pool party at the Ansley Golf Club. A lifeguard was on duty, but apparently didn’t notice when the girl fell in.
Just two years later, a 10-year-old boy drowned in the pool of the Westin Peachtree Plaza, at a birthday party for his friend. His death was made all the more sad and frustrating by the lack of information on how it happened. The Plaza’s representatives and the party’s chaperones were unable to answer the parents’ questions after the boy was pulled from the water by a separate group of guests at the hotel.
Unfortunately, these media-covered drowning cases are not isolated occurrences. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that about ten people die from accidental drowning every day in the U.S, and 20% of them are under the age of 14.
Safety Features Are Required by Law
In Georgia, public pool managers are explicitly responsible for supervision and safety. Apart from this general responsibility, they’re also required to ensure the pool facilities are equipped with specific safety features, including:
- Handholds no more than a foot above the waterline
- A rope and float line
- Depth markers
- An emergency shutoff switch for the circulation system
- Current CPR/first aid/lifeguard certification for any lifeguards provided
- A lifesaving pole
- A landline telephone
- Barriers to prevent entry while the pool is closed
- A drinking fountain
- A rinse shower
- Signs alerting swimmers to rules, potential hazards, whether or not a lifeguard is present, and whether or not the depth is safe for diving
Remember, lifeguards are recommended but not required, and designated chaperones also carry responsibility for any children brought into a pool area.
How to Prevent Accidental Drowning
The Red Cross and Reviews.com offer many tips on staying safe in the water in a variety of situations. Here are some good points to remember when you’re enjoying water activities:
- Read and obey all posted rules.
- Designate someone to supervise children at all times.
- Enforce “no diving” rules in any water less than nine feet deep.
- Know what safety equipment is available and how to use it.
- Do not play with safety equipment.
- Take rest breaks.
- Do not swim in a pool that is overly crowded, or with swimmers who are not following the rules.
- Do not bring any glass or breakable objects onto the pool deck.
- Check that the pool area is clean, well-maintained, and free of obvious hazards. The drain should be clearly visible under the deepest section of water.
- Check that fences are in good repair and that gates are self-closing and self-latching to prevent children from entering unsupervised.
Preparation and knowledge can literally save lives, but sometimes there are factors you can’t foresee as a guest at a public pool. If you or a loved one has already been involved in a pool accident, reach out to the Stoddard Firm for a free consultation on your next steps.