Recreational activities involving water peak during the summer months. While these activities are enjoyable, they also pose the potential for accidents such as drowning. In 2016, over 1,000 children drowned in the U.S and over 7,000 visited the emergency room following a drowning-related event.
Drownings are generally more common in open water such as oceans or lakes than in pools. Children are among those who are the most likely to drown. Here in Washington D.C., the region has over 12 community outdoor swimming pools that are open. Although lifeguards are on duty, the potential for injuries and fatalities exists.
Swimming Pool Liability
Swimming in the U.S. is ranked as the third most common type of recreational activity. Swimming pools create potential exposure to civil liability in instances such as drownings, slip-and-fall accidents, and failures in supervision. There are a host of different types of pools such as public (community) pools, those located on private property, and at “semi-public” facilities such as hotels or gyms.
Those who own or manage a swimming pool may also be subject to various regulatory provisions that may be established by local municipalities and/or state entities. When injuries or fatalities occur, the potential for liability may exist if negligence can be proven.
How Drowning May Occur
When a person has liquid that enters their airway, there is the potential for drowning. Even a small volume of water can create an obstruction to normal breathing activity when it enters the region of the trachea. When this occurs, the body has a natural reaction that tightens the airway to prevent the water flow; however, this also then restricts airflow that is necessary to breathe and limits the ability of the person to emit an audible call for help. In moderate to extreme cases, you may be deprived of too much oxygen and become unconscious.
Signs of Drowning
Most drowning victims will appear to be struggling to maintain themselves above the water. Lifeguards receive training in the ability to better recognize an individual who is drowning and have the skills to administer life-saving emergency care. Public pools often become extremely crowded will dozens of swimmers in an area of water. In private pools, the absence of lifeguards can create great dangers for those who begin to drown and it is critical that swimmers rely on one another to detect problems. Children participating in aggressive horseplay are at a much greater risk of ingesting water when swimming.
Water Safety Tips for Children
Parents are encouraged to make sure that children are capable of completing several critical challenges to be safer in the water:
- They should be capable of submerging themselves completely in the water and immediately returning to the top (surface)
- The ability to change direction when in the water
- Be able to maintain themselves in the water either by floating or treading water
- Swimming should include a combination of movement and breathing actions
- They must be capable of exiting the pool without the assistance of someone else
- Children should not be left to swim alone, particularly when without any supervision
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