As summer arrives, beckoning people to pools and beaches, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) urges Americans to exercise extra caution around water due to the ongoing issue of drowning, which remains the leading cause of death for children aged one to four.
According to the CDC, approximately 4,000 unintentional drownings occur each year, resulting in fatalities, along with 8,000 nonfatal drownings among both children and adults.
The recently released annual drowning and submersion report on June 8 revealed that between 2018 and 2020, an average of 4,788 children under the age of five required treatment in hospital emergency rooms due to nonfatal drowning incidents. In 2020, the number of fatal drownings among children under five in pools or spas rose by 10% to reach 279.
Nonfatal drownings refer to incidents in which individuals survive but may sustain injuries of varying severity, ranging from brain damage or permanent impairment to no injuries at all.
Children under 15 also experienced a significant number of fatal drownings and nonfatal drowning injuries, averaging 371 fatalities per year between 2018 and 2020, with 6,300 hospitalizations due to drowning-related injuries from 2020 to 2022.
The survey highlighted that approximately 80% of reported fatal child drownings occurred in residential settings, including the victim’s own home, as well as homes of family members, friends, or neighbors. Among children aged five to 14 whose race was determined, African American children accounted for 45% of drowning cases.
CPSC Chair Alex Hoehn-Saric emphasized, “Fatalities and nonfatal drowning injuries remain alarmingly high, underscoring the critical importance of water safety vigilance this summer and throughout the year.”
Hoehn-Saric urged parents and guardians to follow the guidelines outlined in the CPSC’s Pool Safely public education campaign, which include:
- Never leaving a child alone near or in the water and assigning a responsible adult as a water watcher.
- Ensuring the designated water watcher is not distracted by activities such as reading, texting, or phone use.
- Extending caution to various water sources, including bathtubs, buckets, decorative ponds, fountains, swimming pools, and spas.
- Implementing multiple layers of security, such as barriers, to prevent children from accessing pools or spas. Options include pool covers, self-closing and self-latching systems for fence gates, and door alarms.
- Acquiring knowledge of CPR techniques for both adults and children.
- Encouraging swimming proficiency for both parents and children.
- Keeping children away from pipes, drains, and other openings near pools to avoid entrapment hazards.
- Ensuring that the pool or spa being used has drain covers that meet federal safety standards.
Locations Where Pool Drowning Incidents Occur Involving Children
When it comes to pool drowning incidents involving children, the following locations are identified as common settings:
- Residential Pools: A significant number of reported fatal child drownings occur in residential pools. These include pools located in the victim’s own home or in the homes of family members, friends, or neighbors.
- Public Pools: Drownings can also occur in public pools, including community pools, water parks, and recreational facilities. These venues attract a large number of children during summer months.
- Backyard Pools: Pools located in residential backyards, whether they are above-ground or in-ground, pose a potential drowning risk for children. These pools are often accessible and require proper safety measures.
- Hotel and Resort Pools: Vacation destinations with pool facilities, such as hotels and resorts, can also be sites of child drowning incidents. Supervision and safety precautions are essential in these environments.
- Community Pools: Pools operated by community organizations, schools, or local municipalities are popular recreational spots for families. It is important to ensure that proper safety protocols are in place in these settings.
- Unsecured Pools: Any pool that lacks appropriate safety measures, such as fencing, gate locks, or pool covers, can increase the risk of child drowning. Unsecured pools in any location can be hazardous.
- Inflatable and Above-Ground Pools: Inflatable pools and above-ground pools are often seen as more accessible and affordable options for families. However, they still require vigilant supervision and safety precautions to prevent drowning incidents.
It is crucial for parents, guardians, and pool owners to be aware of these potential drowning risk areas and take necessary safety measures to protect children from such tragedies. Proper supervision, installation of safety barriers, adherence to pool regulations, and promoting water safety education can greatly reduce the likelihood of pool-related drownings among children.
Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Pool Drowning Cases Involving Children
In cases of pool drowning incidents resulting in the death of a child, surviving family members may consider filing a wrongful death lawsuit. It’s important to note that legal procedures may vary depending on jurisdiction, so consulting with a qualified attorney is crucial for accurate guidance. However, the following general steps are typically involved in filing a wrongful death lawsuit in pool drowning cases:
- Consultation with an Attorney: Seek the assistance of an experienced wrongful death attorney who specializes in personal injury and wrongful death cases. They will evaluate the circumstances surrounding the incident, gather evidence, and advise on the legal options available.
- Investigation and Gathering Evidence: The attorney will conduct a thorough investigation to determine liability. This may involve reviewing pool safety regulations, examining the pool premises for any negligence or lack of safety measures, collecting witness statements, reviewing surveillance footage, and gathering medical records.
- Establishing Negligence: To build a strong case, it is important to establish that the defendant (often the pool owner or operator) was negligent and that their negligence directly resulted in the child’s drowning and subsequent death. Negligence may involve factors such as inadequate supervision, lack of proper fencing or barriers, failure to comply with safety regulations, or any other breach of duty of care.
- Identifying Responsible Parties: In pool drowning cases, potential defendants may include the pool owner, property owner, lifeguards (if present), maintenance personnel, or any other parties responsible for ensuring pool safety. Determining the liable parties is crucial to pursuing a successful lawsuit.
- Proving Damages: In a wrongful death lawsuit, it is necessary to establish the damages suffered by the surviving family members as a result of the child’s death. This may include medical and funeral expenses, loss of financial support, emotional distress, and loss of companionship.
- Filing the Lawsuit: Once all necessary evidence is gathered, the attorney will draft the complaint and file it in the appropriate court within the prescribed time limit. The defendant(s) will be served with the complaint, initiating the legal process.
- Settlement Negotiations or Trial: After the lawsuit is filed, the parties may engage in settlement negotiations to reach a resolution. If a settlement cannot be reached, the case may proceed to trial, where the evidence will be presented before a judge or jury.
It is important to note that each case is unique, and the legal process may vary based on the specific circumstances. Therefore, seeking legal advice from a qualified attorney is essential to navigate the complexities of filing a wrongful death lawsuit in pool drowning cases involving children.
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