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
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.
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
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.