Drowning is the most frequent, but not the only, cause of injury and death in and around swimming pools. Circulation entrapment, diving accidents, electrocutions, chemical accidents, and slip and fall accidents can also occur. Owners are responsible for preventing these hazards, and when they fail to do so, they may be held liable for their negligence.
DROWNING ACCIDENT FACTS
- Each day in the United States, nine people drown; near drownings cause up to four hospitalizations.
- Drowning is the leading cause of accidental death among children ages 1 to 4 and the second leading cause of accidental death among children 14 and under.
- Around 5,000 children 14 and under are treated in hospitals annually for drowning-related accidents; 15 percent die and approximately 20 percent have permanent neurological impairment.
- Safety fencing to separate a home pool from the house and the yard decreases drowning injuries between 50 and 90 percent.
CIRCULATION ENTRAPMENT INJURIES
Circulation entrapment occurs when a swimmer is trapped by the suction from water rushing out of the pool drain. Swimmers can be caught by hair, swimsuit, or body part, leading to injury or death, either from the suction itself or from drowning when unable to escape. Children are the most common victims because they lack the physical strength to break away from the suction.
Diving accidents typically cause head, neck, and back injuries, sometimes resulting in paralysis or brain damage. Sometimes a diving accident will cause the person to lose consciousness and drown. Diving accidents sent about 6,500 victims, mostly adolescents, to the hospital every year. Almost half of these injuries take place during pool parties where alcohol or drugs are being used. Eighty percent of the accidents happen in shallow water less than four feet deep. Shallow pool areas should be clearly marked and adults should prevent underage drinking and drug use.
Between 1990 and 2002, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reported 60 cases of deaths and 50 injuries caused by pool electrocution. The electric shock itself can cause death, or the person can become incapacitated and drown.
Plugged-in radios or stereos, extension cords, or power tools are the most common cause of pool electrocutions, followed by underwater pool lights, pool pumps, sump pumps, pool vacuums, and pressure washers. Pool electrocutions can be prevented by installing ground fault interrupters (GFIs). Failure to do so can be considered negligence if an electrocution occurs.
POOL CHEMICAL ACCIDENTS
Chemicals for maintaining swimming pools have caused accidents when they’ve been improperly stored or labeled. In one case, adding the wrong chemicals to a pool caused sulfur dioxide, which causes respiratory distress, to be released. Chemicals are a poisoning hazard when left where young children can get to them, and mixing the chemicals improperly can cause burns. Owners are responsible for safe storage and labeling of pool chemicals.
POOL DECK SLIP AND FALL ACCIDENTS
Slip and fall accidents frequently occur around swimming pools, especially if the material used to surface the deck is not slip proof. Food, ice, and beverages spilled on a deck can create fall hazards as well. It is the pool owner’s responsibility to keep the pool area safe and prevent conditions conducive to falls, removing any hazards and immediately placing warning signs should a hazardous condition occur.
The Seattle swimming pool accident lawyers at Wattel & York are your best resource if you or a family member has been injured in a pool. Our lawyers are skilled negotiators and litigators who are committed to helping the injured. Call us for a free, no-obligation consultation.