Memorial Day Weekend Marks Start of Increased Drowning Risk

Pool drowning lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm remind the public that Memorial Day Weekend, though the unofficial start of summer and a time to celebrate the end of school, also brings an increased risk of child drowning. Pool, lake, and beach parties are favorite ways to celebrate, but parents must remember to stay alert and diligent while children are around water.

For children between the ages of one and four, drowning is the second leading cause of preventable death in the United States (just behind auto accidents). Even when not fatal, water-related accidents cause significant, life-changing injuries from the lack of oxygen to the brain, including permanent brain injury and loss of basic functioning.

Pools in particular pose a great risk – spinal cord injuries are abundant in the summer months as families change rules and routines around private and community pools. Especially during holiday weekends, reuniting with family and friends can cause confusion and contribute to lack of supervision. To prevent accidents and fatal injuries, families are encouraged to constantly have capable supervisors watching over the water while children are around.

One mother in Arizona lost her three and a half year old son to pool drowning in 1998. After the tragic accident, she co-founded the Water Watchers program at Phoenix Children’s Hospital. The Water Watchers program recommends that families designate a supervisor, who would wear a tag, hat or whistle and understand that he or she should be within touching distance of children under the age of five. If necessary, more than one Water Watcher may be designated if there are too many children for one person to watch closely.

Preferably, that designated Watcher would know how to swim and how to administer CPR, be free of any impairment (alcohol or other substances), and stand or sit in a place where he or she can see the entire pool area. The Water Watcher should also be able to take regular breaks, during which another designated Watcher would fill in.

Many hospitals throughout the United States, such Phoenix Children’s Hospital, have year-round programming to prevent child drowning. Often, these programs are free for families, and include learn-to-swim programs as well as information sessions for parents. Nearly 150 families are enrolled in the Phoenix program for the summer of 2013.

It takes less than a minute of inattentiveness for a child to fall into a pool. Particularly with very young children, they may not even make a splash. Safety experts warn parents not to rely on life preservers or floatation devices as an alternative to constant supervision. These devices may stop the child from floating to the bottom, but if the child land fact down in the water, as is typical, they would not be able to bring their head up to air.

It is not only young children at risk of drowning, however. Citizens of any age can fall victim to the tragic fate, especially in natural bodies of water with unexpected or powerful tides and currents. A 21-year-old man from Illinois recently drowned at Pheasant Run Resort when he became distressed and sank face down to the bottom of the pool near the drain. There was no lifeguard on duty, and employees could not locate any rescue equipment.

Several consequent lawsuits were filed against the resort and spa, alleging it failed to maintain the pool by not posting emergency numbers or installing a phone. Lawsuits also note that the resort was cited at least seven times by the DuPage County Health Department for not having a buoyed safety rope dividing the shallow and deep ends and for not having adequate lifesaving equipment.

Swimming pool injury lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm are currently evaluating potential drowning and swimming accident lawsuits. These lawsuits involve irresponsible or negligent behavior by lifeguards or anyone in charge of supervising or maintaining a water area. If you or a loved one suffered a serious injury at a pool, lake or beach caused by the negligence of another, you may be entitled to significant compensation for any medical bills and emotional distress.