The recent deaths of two toddlers in a Glendale, Arizona swimming pool accident underscore the importance of swimming pool safety in the Valley. Each year, several people die after drowning in backyard swimming pools in the Phoenix metro area and across the state. Since many people have backyard pools to beat the heat, it is important to understand the safety steps you should take to prevent these types of tragic accidents.
Two Children Die Following a Swimming Pool Accident
According to a report in AZ Central, two children ages three and four died after a backyard swimming pool accident. Law enforcement authorities reported that the two children were playing when the accident occurred. After one of the children fell into the pool, his brother entered to try to save him.
The parents called 911 and began performing CPR on their children when they discovered them. When firefighters from the Glendale Fire Department arrived, they transported the children to the hospital. One child was pronounced dead upon his arrival at the hospital, while the other one later succumbed to his injuries after initially being listed in critical condition.
Officials stated that one of the children died from drowning after being submerged in water. The cause of the other child’s death wasn’t announced.
Pool Safety Key to Preventing Drowning Accidents
The story of the young children should serve as a warning to many people in the greater Phoenix area who have above-ground or below-ground pools. While many people enjoy having pools during the summer months, they must take steps to prevent people from drowning. Here are some pool safety tips to help prevent accidents.
1. Erect a Compliant Fence or Barrier
One of the first things you should do if you have a background pool is to make sure you have a compliant fence around its exterior to prevent people from outside from getting in and potentially drowning in your pool. Under ARS § 36-1681, all pools that are at least 18 inches deep and eight or more feet wide must be enclosed. The exterior wall of the enclosure must be at least five feet tall.
If the back of your home forms part of the enclosure, you must also have a barrier of at least four feet between the back of your home and the pool. The wall or fence can’t have any openings greater than four inches, and it must have a gate that has a self-latching mechanism. It is unclear whether the children’s home had an exterior wall or fence, but it appears that it didn’t have a barrier between the back of the home and the pool. This type of barrier might have prevented this terrible accident.
2. Always Supervise Your Children
You should never allow your children to play unsupervised near a pool or another body of water. Children are attracted by water and can quickly drown. If your children are playing outside near your pool, you need to be with them. When children visit your home to play in your pool, an adult needs to be watching the children at all times. Even stepping away for a moment to use the bathroom or answer the phone can be enough time for a child to drown. In this case, it appears that the children were left unsupervised in the backyard near the pool, which resulted in tragedy.
If there is more than one adult, designate someone to serve as the supervisor of the children, and trade when it’s necessary. However, don’t leave children alone around a pool. If you leave the pool and don’t have someone there to take over, make the children leave with you.
3. Remove Objects Children Can Climb Away From Your Fence
Even if you don’t have children, kids from your neighborhood might be tempted to enter your yard to swim in your pool. You need to make sure that there aren’t any objects near your pool enclosure that children could climb to gain access. Remove tables, ladders, chairs, bicycles, and other similar objects that are close to or leaning on your fence. Children of all ages might attempt to climb up on objects to go over your fence so that they can swim.
4. Make Children Use Life Vests, and Keep Safety Equipment Nearby
Children should be required to use life vests whenever they swim. Even if your children are taking swimming lessons, you should still make them wear life vests when they swim in your pool. Make sure to replace your children’s life vests as they grow so that they fit correctly. You should also have other safety equipment within easy reach near your pool, including flotation devices, poles that people can grab onto, or hooks.
5. Learn CPR
If you don’t know how to perform CPR, you should take a class and learn it. If someone has a swimming pool accident at your home, knowing how to perform CPR until help arrives can make the difference between someone surviving or dying. You can find CPR classes near you that are offered by the American Red Cross. Once you take and pass this class, you will be certified in CPR. You will need to renew your certification every two years to keep your skills fresh.
While the parents in the incident were performing CPR when the Fire Department arrived, they were unable to save their children. Knowing CPR isn’t enough. Instead, closely supervising your children and complying with the state law for pool enclosures can help to prevent accidents that might otherwise occur. However, knowing how to perform CPR might make a difference when someone has any type of emergency, including a swimming pool accident.
6. Learn to Swim, and Enroll Your Children in Swimming Classes
If you don’t know how to swim, you need to learn. There are classes geared for adults that can help you learn in a non-stigmatizing environment. You should also enroll your children in swimming classes. There are children’s swimming classes that are geared to children of all ages. However, don’t rely on your children’s swimming classes by themselves. You still must always supervise your children when they are around or in your pool. Some children might believe that they have a greater level of skill with swimming than they do and should be supervised at all times.
7. Don’t Swim or Allow Children in Your Pool While You Are Under the Influence
You should never go swimming when you are under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or prescription medications. You should likewise not supervise children in your pool or allow them to swim when you have been drinking. Alcohol and other substances can impair your judgment and slow your reaction times, leading to potentially tragic results when swimming.
Talk to Lamber Goodnow
For more information about swimming pool safety, reach out to the experienced attorneys at Lamber Goodnow. We can help you understand your obligations as a pool owner to prevent child drowning incidents. If your child was injured in a swimming pool accident while visiting someone else’s home, we can also help you understand your legal options. Contact us today for a free consultation.