Swimming Pool Risks for Young Children in California
San Jose Swimming Pool Accident Lawyer
Many young children drown or are injured in swimming pools in California every year. Despite detailed legislation setting forth the requirements for protective gates and fences, too many tragedies continue to happen.
In the Palm Springs area, for example, on July 13, a 16-month-old girl drowned in a home pool, while a 22-month boy was rescued just in time. The two incidents occurred within 45 minutes of each other.
The risk of an unattended toddler drowning in a home pool remains very real. And there are other dangers as well. Even older children who know how to swim can fall victim to the suction exerted by powerful drains in the pool.
Dealing with these dangers starts with personal responsibility. It bears repeating: Responsible caregivers should not leave young children unattended around swimming pools. Doing so is an invitation for disaster.
There are also several very basic safety steps that should be followed, even for older children. Learning to swim is naturally very important, so authorities encourage parents to get swimming lessons for their children. Parents should also model respect for safety around the water, through behaviors that include not swimming alone, not relying on inflatable devices to keep kids safe and designating a responsible adult to keep watch at pool parties.
Then there are the specific safety features required by California law. The California Swimming Pool Safety Act (The Act) mandates that gates at private pools must be at least five feet tall. For pools constructed after 1998, an alarm is also required on doors with direct access to the pool. The Act further specifies that pools must have at least two circulation drains, to prevent strong suction from pulling a toddler underneath the water.
These requirements apply to private pools. On July 1, a new state law took effect to expand safety protections concerning drains at public pools (which, as the law is worded, include pools at apartment buildings).
Under the new law, public pools with split drains must have drain covers to prevent entrapment. Public pools with a single drain must have an automatic pump shutoff system or another comparable safety feature to prevent injuries in the event the drain becomes blocked.
Compliance with the law and a commitment to common sense safety principles should be able to reduce the number of children injured or killed in swimming pool accidents.