The start of summer means more time spent in and around swimming pools and lakes, which can mean more accidents and drowning deaths, especially for children.
According to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS), as of June 11, 2013 there were 27 reported child-drowning deaths in Texas in 2013. The latest reported incident occurred June 15, 2013, when a four-year old drowned in the pool at an apartment building in Lewisville, Texas. Unfortunately, this was the second such incident in less than a week — a three-year old drowned in North Texas on June 13th in a pool at a private residence. On a positive note, the number of drowning deaths in Texas may be down from last year. The DFPS reported a total 74 drowning deaths last year, with a combined 30 deaths in June and July. Notably, 37 of these fatalities occurred in swimming pools, and children ages 2 and younger accounted for over 50% of the total fatalities.
Some safety tips from DFPS to prevent fatalities similar to the ones described above include:
1. Never leave children alone around water — this includes swimming pools, wading pools, drainage ditches, creeks, ponds, and lakes.
2. Keep an eye on children who are swimming or playing in water. They need an adult or certified lifeguard watching them at all times.
3. Make sure access to swimming pools is secure. Use fences (self-closing and latching), and water surface alarms.
4. Store water toys away from the water when not in use so they don’t attract small children.
5. Don’t assume young children will use good judgment and caution around water.
In addition, if you are a business or property owner, it is important to determine whether or not your pool or spa is considered “public” or “semi-public” pursuant to the San Antonio City Code. All public and semi-public swimming pools and spas are regulated by the City of San Antonio. According to the City Code, a semi-public swimming pool is: (1) Any privately owned swimming pool or spa that is open to the general public for a fee, or (2) any swimming or wading pool, spa or sauna, serving a private club, motel, hotel, apartment building, school, child care facility, recreational or physical fitness facility, institution, home owner’s association, or other similar activity or structure, the use of which is limited to members, residents, students, or clients and their guests. All public and semi-public swimming pools or spas located within the City of San Antonio must have a pool license.
All pools and spas must also comply with Texas state law, including but not limited to the following:
• An emergency phone, or other electronic means of summoning emergency service must be readily accessible and within 200 ft. from the pool or spa water.
• Pool signs are required to be securely mounted and visible to the pool user from inside the pool enclosure.
• Public pools and spas must use either chlorine or bromine as the primary sanitization agent.
• All public pools and spas must comply with the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act (VGBA), which requires that all public pools and spas be equipped with entrapment prevention devices or be constructed with built-in features that protect against entrapment.
While following these tips and regulations may decrease the risk of accidents and fatalities, swimming related accidents are the second leading cause of death of children under 14 years of age. If you or a loved has been injured or drowned in a swimming pool, please contact the San Antonio personal injury attorneys at Carabin Shaw at 1-800-862-1260. Swimming accidents may result in serious disabilities and injuries, and the negligent property owners can be held accountable for the injuries that they have caused.
Watch Kids Around Water, Texas Department of Family & Protective Services
Environmental Health Services, City of San Antonio Metropolitan Health District
Public Swimming Pools and Spas, Texas Department of State Health Services