According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as many as 10 unintentional drownings occur every day, 20 percent of which involve children 14 years old or younger. These statistics may be especially alarming for Georgia residents, many of whom take their children to public pools and water parks during the summer months. While state and county regulations play an important role in preventing tragic accidents, not all public pools fully implement these regulations, which can have devastating consequences. Georgia residents who are injured as a result of a negligent failure to adhere to state regulations can and should be held responsible for their actions, so if your child was injured in a swimming pool accident, it is vital to retain an experienced and dedicated Atlanta personal injury attorney who will aggressively represent his or her interests.
The Georgia Department of Public Safety strictly enforces a series of regulations specifically related to swimming pool safety. Under the terms of these regulations, the owners of all public swimming pools, spas, and waterparks are required to take the following safety precautions:
- Construct handholds around the perimeter of the pool every four feet in areas deeper than three and one-half feet;
- Place a rope with visible floats at seven foot intervals to mark the grade between the shallow and deep parts of the pool;
- Use markers that are at least four inches in height to indicate the depth of water in feet on both sides and at both ends of the pool;
- Use at least two depth markers per spa;
- Ensure that all hired lifeguards are certified in performing CPR;
- Provide access to lifesaving equipment, including a pole that is at least 12 feet long and has an attached body hook, a throwing rope connected to a ring buoy, and a hard wired telephone with posted phone numbers for the police, fire, ambulance service, and 911;
- Build a fence that is at least 48 inches in height around all outdoor swimming pools and spas; and
- Ensure that all gates into the pool area are equipped with a locking device and are both self-closing and self-latching.
Pool managers must also make sure that warning signs are posted throughout the property, including signs stating that the following actions are not permitted:
- Diving in the shallow end;
- Swimming without an adult in attendance;
- Using glass articles in and around the pool area;
- Bringing food, drink, or wrappers within 10 feet of the pool or spa;
- Running or roughhousing; and
- Swimming during heavy rain or when thunder and lightning can be seen or heard.
When properly implemented, these regulations save thousands of lives every year. Unfortunately, some pool owners do not conform to these regulations, which can have life-threatening consequences, including:
- Traumatic brain injuries;
- Spinal cord damage;
- Bacterial infections;
- Chemical burns;
- Brain damage from oxygen deprivation;
- Broken bones; and
Based on information published by the CDC, more than 50 percent of drowning victims who are treated in emergency rooms require hospitalization or transfer to another hospital for further care. Some of these injuries take months or even years to fully heal or require multiple surgeries and physical therapy. These types of nonfatal drownings can tragically result in long-term disabilities, including loss of limb function, memory problems, and learning disabilities. Some victims are even required to use special medical devices or receive assistance with daily tasks for the rest of their lives.
Some of the most common causes of swimming pool-related accidents, include:
- Negligent supervision;
- Defective pool drains or pool covers;
- Broken pool ladders;
- Inadequate fencing;
- Unsanitary water caused by a lack of chemical treatment;
- Defective diving boards;
- A failure to post warning signs;
- Improper lifeguard training;
- Overcrowded pools;
- Missing safety equipment;
- Inadequate pool lighting; and
- Improper pool design.
As a result of these negligent acts, pool owners and managers can be held legally responsible for resulting injuries, which enables victims to recover the medical expenses they incurred as well as compensation for pain and suffering. Pool manufacturers can also be held liable if they defectively designed pool equipment, failed to implement proper testing procedures, used improper materials during the manufacturing process, or failed to adhere to federal and state safety regulations. If an item was damaged during shipment, the distributor or retail seller could also be required to compensate the victim.
Adherence to state regulations is vital to ensuring the safety of pool goers. However, there are additional steps that parents and guardians can take to help keep their children safe, including:
- Supervising children closely while at a swimming pool or water park;
- Requiring children to walk when in a pool area;
- Learning CPR;
- Enrolling children in swimming lessons;
- Ensuring that children rinse off before and after entering a pool;
- Being aware of the location of lifesaving equipment, such as flotation devices and body hooks;
- Patronizing pools where lifeguards are on duty;
- Ensuring that lifeguards are appropriately certified;
- Requiring children to use the buddy system while around bodies of water;
- Keeping a cell phone nearby when swimming;
- Instructing children that it is not safe to dive into shallow pools;
- Teaching children to use diving boards one at a time;
- Explaining the meaning of warning signs and depth markers; and
- Avoiding swimming during inclement weather.
Although not a guarantee of safety, implementing these steps can help give parents peace of mind, while also decreasing a child’s chance of injury.
Contact a Dedicated Atlanta Personal Injury Attorney
Swimming pool accidents are emotionally, physically, and financially draining, so if you live in or near Atlanta and you or your child were injured as a result of a pool or water park owner’s negligence, please contact the law firm of Ted A. Greve & Associates, P.A. by completing one of our contact forms, including your name, email address, phone number, and a brief description of your case and we will help you schedule a free consultation with an experienced Atlanta personal injury attorney who can explain your legal options.