Swimming pools pose a risk of injury or death to young children

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Child drowning incidents in residential swimming pools could be greatly reduced by fences around pools coupled with responsible adult supervision.

Warmer weather in Georgia means that it is time to cool off by taking a refreshing dip in a swimming pool. Unfortunately, every year brings forth grim news stories of young children who die due to accidental drowning. Recently, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that a 4-year-old girl was a victim of an accidental drowning at the Atlanta Ansley Golf Club swimming pool. Not long before the Ansley Golf Club drowning, a 16-month-old child was reported to have drowned in a swimming pool accident which occurred in a Clermont residential swimming pool.

Drowning remains a significant public health concern since it is a major cause of disability and death. Young children are often drowning victims. In far too many cases, toddlers and young children seem magnetically drawn to swimming pools. The Georgia Department of Public Health states that near-drowning is the leading cause of injury for children ages 1 to 4.

Drowning can be broadly defined as respiratory impairment resulting from submersion in water. Medscape observes that drowning usually occurs "silently and rapidly." In many instances, drowning victims quickly and quietly disappear beneath the water and are not able to call attention to their situation. However, many experience near-drowning incidents and survive.

If the victim of a near-drowning incident sustains injuries, such injuries are often severe and sometimes permanent. An article on submersible injuries published by Stanford University reveals that near-drowning victims often suffer moderate to severe brain injuries and/or damage to the central nervous system. Additionally, near-drowning victims may also sustain serious injury to other organ systems such as myocardial injury, kidney impairment, liver damage and permanent lung damage.

Several thousand people are hospitalized every year from near-drowning accidents. Of these victims, 50 percent required additional medical care. For survivors of a near-drowning, medical costs and rehabilitative costs are astronomical. A Creighton University publication estimates that it can cost $100,000 yearly to care for a neurologically impaired survivor of a near-drowning. The International Swimming Hall of Fame finds that the typical emergency room medical costs for a near-drowning victim can be around $75,000 while life-time care for a brain damaged individual can exceed $4 million.

Safety Tips

The Georgia Department of Public Health offers the following safety tips for keeping children safe around pools:

  • Learn life-saving skills such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
  • Put up a four-sided fence with self-closing and self-latching gates. Hopefully, this will keep young children away from a residential pool when they are not supposed to be swimming.
  • Be on the lookout at all times when children are in the vicinity of a swimming pool.
  • Adults who are supposed to be watching children around a pool should avoid distracting activities such as reading books. Further, adults should refrain from using alcohol or drugs if they are supervising children.
  • Teach children how to swim.

Seeking compensation

For survivors of near-drowning incidents, the costs incurred for medical expenses and rehabilitation costs can be staggering. If someone in your family has sustained serious injury due to a near-drowning which resulted from the negligence of a third party, you should contact an attorney. Swimming pool accident cases are often complicated and depend on whether the injured person was lawfully on the premises as opposed to being a trespasser. A Georgia attorney who handles personal injury cases can investigate the facts and help you determine the most viable options for seeking monetary compensation.

Keywords: swimming pools, risk, injury, children, safety tips