As a child, I remember anxiously awaiting not only a break from school, but also the opening of the pool during the summer. Nothing was more exciting than breaking the still, calm water with a big splash from a cannonball and feeling the cool water surround me. What should be a relaxing, carefree summer day could end in tragedy within seconds or minutes, however, as the news has been flooded with reports of drowning. The United States Consumer Product & Safety Commission (CPSC) recently reported 55 drowning and 63 near-drowning accidents since the beginning of 2011. There are an estimated ten deaths related to drowning per day. Around 76% of these fatalities are children under the age of 5. For those who survive near-drowning, many are left with permanent injuries like memory problems, learning disabilities, severe brain damage, or spinal cord injury.
When people think of drowning they picture a person thrashing around, calling for help. Drowning is actually silent, and occurs very rapidly. A distressed swimmer is able to call for help, but when someone is drowning, they do not have the ability to breathe or make any sound. Signs of drowning include vertical position with only the head above water, mouth open toward the sky, decreased consciousness, no kicking, trying to move but making no progress, and glassy eyes. Another common misconception about drowning is that it usually occurs in fast-moving, choppy water like in a river or ocean. Most drowning, however, occurs in backyard or community pools, lakes, bathtubs, spas, and smaller bodies of water. The majority of infant and toddler drowning occur in bathtubs and buckets within only a few short minutes.
Pool safety remains a serious public health issue and a main contributor to submersion injuries and drowning. The majority of pool-related injuries occur due to lack of supervision, alcohol and other drug use, inadequate maintenance of pool facilities, and entrapment in powerful pool drains. The CDC has determined that a lack of barriers and fences around a pool is the most common risk factor for drowning and other pool-related injuries. In less than five minutes and 2 inches of water, an innocent life could be lost. The CPSC continues to urge parents to watch children at all times around swimming pools and spas, and practice other safety steps such as learning water safety and rescue skills like CPR, and installing anti-entrapment pool and drain covers.
In 2008, the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act was passed, which required pool owners to install anti-entrapment drain covers and other systems to prevent entrapment-type injuries and fatalities. Suction entrapment occurs when someone is trapped by the powerful suction of some types of drains. Other accidents occur where swimmers get trapped in defective drain covers, holding them underwater. Recently, eight different manufacturers have issued recalls for pool and spa covers due to incorrect ratings, putting swimmers at risk of entrapment. Although this Act has been in place for several years, a survey of pool owners and operators indicated that 30% do not have the safety measures in place that are required by the Act.
Swimming pool accidents and litigation can be highly technical, which is why you need an attorney with experience and expertise in this field. For over three decades the experienced drowning and swimming pool accident attorneys of Reiff & Bily have been committed to fighting for the rights of those who suffered preventable injuries. Serious and catastrophic injuries caused by swimming pool accidents can require lifelong, expensive medical care, especially if the victim suffered brain damage. If you, your child, or a loved one has suffered a drowning accident you may be able to file a claim for premise liability or negligence, and receive financial compensation for medical costs, rehabilitation costs, pain and suffering, and lost wages. Our experienced Pennsylvania fatal drowning accident lawyers have investigated numerous drowning accidents and understand many different complex factors that have resulted in unfortunate accidents, permanent disability, and untimely death related to pool safety, and drowning.