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August 2016

Why a swimming pool owner has a legal duty to safeguard

By | Liability, Swimming Pool Tips | No Comments

Swimming pool owners are required to maintain the safety of their pool area. A swimming
pool is a structure that is attached to fealty. For this reason, it is regarded
as property. 

All property owners have a social and civil duty to make sure that their property
remains safe at all times. Herein are several reasons why a swimming pool owner
has legal duty to safeguard.

OCCUPIERS LIABILTY

According to the Residential and Commercial Swimming pool Safety Act, there are certain
duties afforded to a swimming pool owner regarding safety measures and
barriers. This duty is owed both under common law and under the Occupiers
Liability Act of 1957.

For swimming pool owners; there are three different kinds of duty. These duties may
sometimes overlap. The first is the duty that attaches property occupiers in
respect of the state of the property which has to be judged in the context of
the purpose for which the visitor is in the pool. 

Secondly, there are swimming pools which cannot be termed as unsafe but may bear some
hidden dangers. Finally, there are those pools whereby activities have been
permitted that may give rise to dangerous situation themselves. Under all three
scenarios, the 1957 Act obliges the property owners to provide structures or
premises that are reasonably safe for whatever activities are allowed to be
carried out within them.

In the event of any incidences, the individual cases will be fact sensitive. However,
it is still very important for swimming pool owners to provide safeguard. It is
likely that common law would not arise in some cases but it still remains a
social obligation for the pool owner. The reason for this is that swimmers
would naturally assume that there should be some sort of safeguard since they
understand that to be the norm. 

Depending on whether the swimming pool is residential or commercial, any arising legal
cases can go in either direction. In some instances, owners who fail to provide
safeguard can be held liable to prosecution for misdemeanor. This is because
severe injury or death can result due to this negligence.

ATTRACTIVE NUISANCE

It does not take a swimming pool expert to know that drowning is a leading cause
of preventable death in children under the age of 5 years. For this reason, a
swimming pool owner has special duty in regards to child trespassers. Under the
child trespassers doctrine, the pool owner can be found liable for any injuries
suffered by a trespassing child. The same owner may be let off if the
trespasser is an adult. 

Attractive nuisance refers to anything that could arouse the curiosity of a small child
and attract them into premises to investigate the said object. In a court of
law, water bodies including swimming pools may be classified as attractive
nuisance. Due to a child’s inability to reason, they will likely be attracted
to an accessible pool therefore endangering their safety. The supreme court of
the respective state sets forth the regulations for determining if something is
or is not an attractive nuisance in individual cases.

For these are numerous other reasons, all swimming pool owners have to implement
certain safety procedure including but not limited to setting up enclosures, incorporating
mesh pool fencing, employing pool safety covers, hiring lifeguards, swimming
pool alarms and depth indicators.

Not even a minute – leaving a child unattended at a pool

By | Swimming Pool Accidents, Swimming Pool Tips | No Comments

Swimming pools are great for recreational activities and all round family fun for both
adults and children. However, they can also be a source of great unexpected
anguish and adverse eventualities. Drowning is well known to take the lives of
more toddlers than any other type of recreational accident. Additionally, the
children who are lucky enough to survive a near drowning experience are often
afflicted with temporary or permanent brain damage from the lack of oxygen.

Children between the ages of one and four are at the greatest risk of being involved in
a water body incident. The main reason for this phenomenon is that at this age,
children are extremely active and full of curiosity. They are always learning
new skills every day and adults have to keep a keen eye on them at all times.
They can suddenly learn how to operate doors and wonder off to the swimming
pool area.

One common misconception about drowning is that it happens dramatically with the
victims flailing around in the water. The truth is that drowning is rather event less. A child can fall into a swimming pool and drown silently without
ever calling out for help. There are numerous cases of people drowning right in
the midst of experienced swimmers without anyone even noticing. 

These incidences clearly emphasize the importance of not leaving a child unattended
at a pool for even one minute. A child can drown in about a minute or two. A
large percentage of child drowning happen at the homes of the parents,
neighbors or relatives. Fortunately, these are some measures that parents and
caregivers can take to prevent such incidences.

ADULT SUPERVISION

The supervision of children around the swimming pool should never be undertaken as
normal supervision, whereby the parent or caregiver checks on them from time to
time. This active supervision involves keeping the children in direct sight at
all times. Parents must never leave a child alone in or around a swimming pool,
even for a few seconds. This is regardless of whether the child knows how to
swim or is wearing standard issue floaters. 

If there are many children, caregivers can assign some of the supervisory work to
a responsible older child or teenager. This assistant should be carefully
instructed to keep the children in direct sight and at arm’s length at all
times. It is important to always keep rescue equipment such as the safety rings
and long poles within easy reach in case of anything. If parents are having a
private pool party, they should consider enlisting the services of a
professional lifeguard.

BARRIERS

Barriers are essential for keeping the children away from the pool area when it is not
being used. The pool gate and fences should meet the recommended safety
standards including a self-closing gate than open away from the pool side.
Always use safety locks whenever the swimming pool is not in use. 

All the doors and windows leading to the pool area should close and latch
automatically. The latch releases should be child proof and out of reach of
young children. It is also advisable to invest in swimming pool alarms.

It is also very important that children are taught how to swim when they are old
enough. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the recommended age is
4 years. This should not replace active adult supervision but complement it.

The aftermath of a swimming pool accident

By | Liability, Swimming Pool Accidents, Swimming Pool Injuries | No Comments

Accidents at the pool can happen at any time and to anyone. A number of injuries can
result from the use of swimming pools and similar recreational water environments.
The types of swimming pool accidents according to a swimming pool expert
include drowning and non-fatal or near-drowning, major impact injuries, slip,
trip and fall injuries as well as disembowelment. The major impact injuries
often affect the spine, brain and head areas.

Of all these accidents drowning or near-drowning is by far the most common.
Drowning is a major cause of death on its own accord. In the United States
alone, more than 7,000 drowning deaths are recorded nationally every year.
Also, more than 80 % of these drowning deaths occur in residential swimming
pools.

Near-drowning accidents are also very common especially among children. Over 5,000 children
below the age of 14 are hospitalized each year for near-drowning events. It is
therefore very important for all parents, caregivers and poolside supervisor to
know how exactly to respond in case of any swimming pool accident.

Near-drowning and Drowning

A victim can still be saved if they are actively drowning. Drowning victims will often
bob in a vertical motion in the water and will be unable to call out for help.
It is important to note that drowning only takes a few minutes so every second
counts. If there is no lifeguard around the pool area, the caregiver will have
to rescue the victim. 

Knowing how to spot a drowning person is very important. Most people erroneously focus
on sounds or calls for help. Actively drowning victims will be silent and will
have their mouths just above the water surface. They will often not be moving
in any direction. 

The rescue procedure

The first thing caregivers should do is ask any adults present to call for help
before jumping into the water. The person conducting the rescue has to exhibit
calmness and composure throughout the operation.

People who are drowning are known to cling on to their rescuers and endangering both
their lives. Diving in after the victim is only recommended if the victim is
completely underwater or is a young child. Alternatively, a floatation device
or a long pole can be used to avoid endangering the life of another person. 

First Aid

Once the victim is out of the water, they must be examined for any signs of
breathing. This is done by placing one’s ear next to the victim’s mouth or
nose. The victim’s pulse should also be checked for about 10 seconds. If there
is not pulse, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) has to be performed
immediately.

In commercial pools, someone who is trained in CPR and first aid is required to be
present at all times. If not, the caregiver can perform CPR by administering 30
chest compressions about 2 inches down at a rate of 100 compressions per minute
while constantly checking for breathing.

All attempts should be made to keep the victim alive until medical help arrives. In
the event that the victim dies, the police will be contacted immediately.
Following any pool accident, the entire area is closed off and all users have
to exit the pool. 

For all pools, a plan of action for emergencies should be available and always practiced.
The plan often involves coordination with the local emergency response team
first at the site, procedures for evacuation and contacting the authorities in
case of any accidents and the cleaning up process in case bleeding is involved.