A news release from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) in early May announced the five recipients of a grant program from the Pool Safely Grant Program (PSGP). These states and local governments will receive over $860,000 in funds to provide education, training, and enforcement of pool safety requirements with the goal of saving lives and preventing injuries.
This year’s grant awardees are:
- Florida Department of Health, Florida – $248,695
- DuPage County Health Department, Illinois – $291,811
- County of Middlesex, New Jersey – $128,800
- District of Columbia, Washington, D.C. – $54,993
- Loudoun County, Virginia – $142,968
Acting Chairman of the CPSC Robert Adler said in a press release, “Unfortunately, drowning remains the number one cause of unintentional death to children ages one to four. These grants will help states and local governments reach consumers with lifesaving information to prevent pool and spa drownings and entrapments, and will help them to enforce pool safety requirements.”
About the Pool Safely Grant Program
The PSGP helps state and local governments implement education and enforcement programs to prevent pool and spa entrapment and drownings. Recipients of the grant may use the funds for three specific activities:
- Hiring and training personnel to implement and enforce standards under state and local swimming pool and spa safety laws. Recipients must use at least 50 percent of funds for this purpose.
- Educating pool construction, installation and service companies about these standards, as well as pool owners, operators, and the general public about swimming pool and spa safety.
- Defraying administrative costs associated with this training and education.
The state of Virginia has its own Pool and Spa Safety legislation, which notes that drowning is the second-leading cause of death in children aged one to 14 in the United States. It also states that “adult supervision at all aquatic venues is a critical safety factor in preventing children from drowning.”
Causes of children’s pool and spa injuries
We are all aware of the more common hazards of pools and swimming – drowning, jumping head first into shallow water, slipping on wet tiles. However, a lesser-known but highly dangerous hazard are pool drains. Found in both spas (hot tubs) and pools, these drains create a massive amount of suction that can sometimes catch a swimmer’s bathing suit, hair, or jewelry and pull them under.
Drains and outlets are required to have covers to protect swimmers from entrapment. However, if they break or become disconnected, children can easily become trapped underwater and suffer serious or fatal injury.
Children and drowning injuries – by the numbers
Statistics regarding drowning deaths and injuries from swimming pools and spas show the risk they pose to young children. Among these numbers include:
- 356 children aged 0 to 14 died from drowning each year
- 77% of these deaths involved children under 5 years old
- 74% of deaths under age 15 occurred at a residence
- Black children aged 5 to 19 were 5.5 times more likely to drown than white children of the same age
- Children’s drowning deaths increase from May through August
- 5,900 pool and spa-related injury visits to the ER each year
- 48% of incidents occur at a residence, 20% at a public pool or spa, and 32% were unreported
Preventing swimming pool and spa injuries
As the weather warms up and families find themselves poolside, it is important to remember pool and spa safety and be aware of potential dangers. PoolSafely.gov offers a wealth of tips and advice for safe swimming:
- Check that pools and spas, both in backyards and public pools, have compliant drain covers.
- Do not leave children unattended near or in water.
- Ensure your children know how to swim.
- Install proper fences, barriers, covers, and alarms around your pool or spa.
- Learn and know how to perform CPR on both infants and adults.
- Teach children to stay away from drains.
Who is liable if my child is injured in a pool or spa?
Whether it is a public or private pool, the owner has a responsibility to follow Virginia safety laws for pools and spas. When they fail to do so, and their negligence leads to an injury or death, they can be held liable. These types of claims often fall under premises liability law, which calls for owners to keep their property free of hazards and ensure the safety of visitors. If the death of a child occurs due to negligence, you may also be eligible for a wrongful death action.
If your child has suffered drowning or other injuries from a swimming pool or spa, you may be entitled to compensation for the losses from the accident. These can include:
- Current and future medical treatment for the injury and any resulting disability
- Current and future lost wages and earning potential
- Pain and suffering
At Phelan Petty, our Richmond-based personal injury attorneys ensure that negligent property owners are held responsible when children are hurt on their premises. We work to secure compensation on your behalf and ensure no more children are injured due to someone else’s negligent behavior. We proudly represent clients throughout Virginia. To learn more about how we can help you, please call 804-980-7100, or fill out our contact form.