Swimming Pool Accidents and Injuries in Virginia
When the temperatures soar into the 80s and 90s in Virginia during the summer months thousands of people head to the nearest pool, whether at their apartment complex, a back yard, a hotel, or a club.
Although pools are great places to cool off, families are often unaware of the many dangers pools pose, particularly to kids.
From the risk of drowning to dangerous chemicals, pools in Virginia are a lot more dangerous than we think.
How Dangerous Are Swimming Pools in Virginia?
Swimming pools have a powerful effect on children. Toddlers are attracted to the sparkling blue water. Tragically, toddlers drowned in swimming pools in Hampton Roads in recent years.
Most of the drownings of children aged 4 and under occur in backyard swimming pools. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission studied pool drownings in children aged 4 and under in California, Arizona, and Florida - three states with the highest number of pools. Nearly 70% of the kids who drowned were not expected to be in the pool area. In fact, 46% were last seen in the house.
A quarter of the drownings occurred at a friend or a neighbor’s homes. Some cities like Virginia Beach require pools to be fenced by law. You should be aware that pool covers do not offer adequate protection against drowning.
The USA Swimming Foundation points out 205 children under the age of 15 drowned in swimming pools and spas in 2015. Nearly 70 percent of the victims were under the age of five.
The Foundation said 163 children under the age of 15 died in swimming pools from Memorial Day to Labor Day 2017. Virginia was the eighth most deadly state for swimming pool deaths, recording 7. The highest death toll of 25 was reported in Florida.
Every year, more than 2,700 people are admitted to emergency rooms after they get in trouble in the water. On occasions, these swimmers can suffer a depletion of oxygen to the brain and end up with permanent brain damage.
The Pool Safety campaign run by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends the following steps to make pools safer.
• Always install a four-sided fence around pools. Make sure there us a self-closing, self-latching gate around all pools and spas to ensure children can’t get in.
• Learn the basics of how to perform CPR on children and adults. Seconds count in drowning incidents.
• Designate an adult ‘water watcher’ to supervise children in and around the pools.
• Do not be distracted by electronic devices when watching your kids swim.
• Make sure you can swim and teach your child how to swim.
• Teach young swimmers to avoid pool drains, pipes, and other pool openings. These can trap children
• Make sure any pool or spa your kids swim in is equipped with drain covers that comply with federal safety standards. If you are unsure what this means, contact your pool service provider about safer drain covers.
What Dangers do Swimming Pool Chemicals Cause in Virginia?
Although chlorine has a role to play in keeping pools clear, recent studies suggest it is a serious public health risk. Some pool operators add incorrect doses of swimming pool chemicals.
Chlorine is linked to nervous system diseases, respiratory deaths, and heart defects. In some cases, chlorine gases near pools harmed children. In Nebraska, in 2006 a six-year-old boy developed suffered a medical emergency from a condition called epiglottis due to exposure to swimming pool chlorine.
Electrical Dangers at Swimming Pools
Every year, about 20 people suffer electrocution from swimming pools. Electricity and water is a deadly combination. On occasions, a defect with a pool light, power cords, pumps, filters, or vacuums can cause an electric shock to swimmers.
In 2017, a community pool in Virginia Beach was closed down after swimmers were hospitalized from electric shocks.
Suction Entrapment at Swimming Pools
An ABC News report highlighted 83 reports of suction entrapment in pools, including 11 fatalities and 69 injuries from 1999 to 2008. Campaigns to provide swimmers with better protection from powerful suction drains have been unsuccessful to date.
Who is Liable for Swimming Pool Deaths and Injuries?
A pool owner or operator can be held liable for deaths and injuries on their premises. If, for example, a hotel worker leaves a gate open to a pool and a child walks in and drowns, the hotel can be sued in a wrongful death suit.
Hotels have been sued over defects such as pool drains that injured children or excessive pool chemicals in the water.
Liability for pool injuries often depends on the circumstances of the accident. For example, if a neighborhood association or a club has a lifeguard on duty, the organization may be liable for a failure of the lifeguard to save a swimmer from death or injury.
Under the law of premises liability, the pool owner or operator has a duty to provide a safe environment. It includes maintaining a safe pool area, although there is no obligation on hotels to have lifeguards at their pools. The owner or pool cannot be held liable for unforeseeable events.
Lifeguards are hired and trained specifically to ensure the safety of swimmers. Although state laws vary, they are held to a higher standard of care than other people at a pool. In some cases, lifeguards have failed to perform rescues because they were distracted by mobile devices, other guests or even intoxicated.
Contact an Attorney About Swimming Pool Drownings in Virginia
At The Smith Law Center, our experienced injury team will leave no stone unturned in investigating pool accidents and injuries in Virginia. Our lawyers have won many premises liability cases. Please call us at (757) 244-7000.