With the opening of public pools and water parks uncertain during the COVID-19 pandemic this summer, backyard swimming pools in your neighborhood may be popular gathering spots – and a greater temptation for children.
However, swimming pools are associated with a significant amount of risk for injury. For children aged 1 to 4 years, fatal drowning is the leading cause of unintentional injury-related death and the second-leading cause for children up to age 14. There are four times as many children who receive emergency care for nonfatal submersion injuries as there are children who die from drowning.
So while you may be eager to swim even without the safety net of lifeguards usually found at public swimming pools, you should be aware of the dangers of private pools and the safety measures that should be taken by a pool owner.
Swimming pools can lead to many injuries
In addition to the obvious danger of a fatal drowning in a swimming pool, there are many nonfatal injuries that frequently occur at a pool:
- Traumatic brain injury when a swimmer dives into a pool and hits their head
- Pool chemical injuries if the chemicals added to the water to prevent illnesses and increase water clarity are mishandled
- Slip-and-fall injuries from the wet pool deck or other surfaces in the pool area
- Submersion injuries like hypothermia and hypoxia from nonfatal drownings
Pool owners may be liable when someone is injured
A pool owner’s liability is determined in part by whether the person injured was an invitee or a licensee, meaning that person wase invited or given permission to use the pool, or a trespasser.
The owner is responsible for providing higher degrees of care for invitees and licensees and take extra safety precautions to make sure they aren’t hurt. But the owner also must make sure that the pool is not in a condition likely to cause death or serious bodily harm for trespassers. This can mean things like building a fence around the pool and installing a pool cover.
But even if your child is a trespasser who was not invited, the pool owner has responsibilities. A pool is considered to be an attractive nuisance, meaning it could tempt children who don’t understand the inherent danger of being at the pool unsupervised. The pool’s owner therefore is obligated to look for and correct any unsafe conditions.
Limited swimming opportunities may make private pools a more popular option this summer. If you or a member of your family is injured at a private pool and you feel safety precautions weren’t taken, it would be beneficial to speak with an attorney.