When summer rolls around, one house on the block inevitably becomes the most popular. The kid with the pool in his backyard can expect to be entertaining guests throughout the summer months, but those idyllic days can all too easily end in tragedy. Every year roughly 5,000 children are treated in emergency rooms for pool-related injuries, and more than half of those injuries occur in residential pools.
Many parents are used to taking their children to the community pool, where staff members are paid to protect everyone’s safety. Unlike community pools, backyard pools might not have any adults supervising the swimmers, let alone any adults with medical training or a lifeguard certification.
Drowning can happen in an instant. Unlike in the movies, most drowning victims simply slip under the surface with no yelling or splashing. The parent turns his head away for a minute, or looks down to check his smartphone, and that is all it takes. Just being in the vicinity of the pool simply isn’t enough to protect your child. More than half of all children who drown do so within 25 feet of a parent or another adult.
If you want your children to enjoy a backyard pool safely, there are a number of steps you can take to reduce the risks to them:
- Stay Close – One of the best ways to ensure your attention doesn’t wander is to stay close to your kids while they are swimming. For young children, this may mean staying within arm’s reach.
- Assign a Lifeguard – At a party or outdoor function, the adults can take turns watching the pool. This allows the watchers to keep their full attention on the task, since they will only be doing it for a short time and will still have a chance to talk and enjoy the party afterward.
- Fence the Pool – Most areas require pools to be fenced in, but make sure your fence is tall and strong enough to resist any young child’s attempt to access the pool area. A child’s life may depend on it.
- Get an Alarm – An alarm system that can alert you when the pool is accessed could be the difference between life and death.
- Learn CPR – Even if you were paying close attention, a child may require medical assistance by the time you get them out of the pool.
The backyard pool is fun and convenient, but failure to understand the risks involved and the safety procedures required can all too easily lead to tragedy. Follow this link to learn more about pool safety and take the pool safety pledge.
About the Author: Jack Berry is the managing partner and personal injury lawyer of Allen & Allen’s Charlottesville, VA office. He has practiced law as a trial attorney in Central Virginia for almost 30 years. He is dedicated to protecting the rights of his clients in all areas of personal injury law including car crashes, truck accidents, defective products, wrongful death and brain injury cases.
 See Footnote 1.