Preventing Pool Deaths In Florida Summer
While they come in for the most use in summer, swimming pools are a cornerstone of many Florida households year-round. However, their prevalence does not come without a cost; each year young children are injured and even killed due to a lack of pool safety. Florida Health reports that drowning is the leading cause of death for children aged 1-4. Because of this, Florida’s legislature strengthened the Residential Swimming Pool Safety Act (RSPSA) to keep more vulnerable people safe. Failure to observe its safeguards can open you up to liability if someone is injured.
High Rates Of Drowning Deaths Among Children
To a degree, Florida’s high numbers of child deaths from drowning are simply due to circumstance, in that swimming and water activities are part of the state’s culture. However, a lack of oversight has played a role – after 2014 saw Florida’s drowning death rate for children top the U.S. tallies, the legislature passed changes to the RSPSA which clarified the requirements that swimming pools must meet in order to provide some protection from liability for their owners.
Even if drowning is avoided, swimming pools and the area around them can lead to other issues, such as slip-and-fall accidents. If you have people over to swim in your pool, you owe them a certain level of care for their safety. If a visitor is injured due to something that you either knew about or should have known about, you may find yourself on the proverbial hook for their medical bills and for other, more intangible damages – particularly if the injured person is a minor child.
A Range Of Options
The RSPSA requires that in order to have some protection from liability in the event of an accident, a private pool must have at least one of the law’s stipulated safety precautions in place. A pool can have:
- A perimeter fence that is at least 4 feet high, has no holes wide enough for a child to squeeze through, and is set far enough back from the pool that anyone who has gone through the fence does not immediately fall into the water;
- An approved pool safety cover that meets the standards of American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM);
- Every door and window that provides ‘direct access’ to the pool be equipped with an exit alarm that reaches at least 85 decibels at 10 feet away from the pool; and/or
- Every door that provides direct access to the pool be equipped with a self-closing, self-latching mechanism at least 54 inches from the ground.
While the penalty for not having one of the precautions installed is relatively minor – a misdemeanor of the second degree – it is important to keep in mind that it can be used against you in civil court should things come to that point. For example, if you are sued by a person who was injured in your pool, they can use your lack of pool safety measures as evidence of negligence, which can lead to an easier recovery for them.
Call A Tampa Swimming Pool Accident Attorney
Swimming pools can make Florida summers a lot more comfortable, but they can also be dangerous if their users are not careful. The Tampa personal injury attorneys at the Rinaldo Law Group can offer dedicated and knowledgeable representation during what can be a scary time for you and yours. Call our offices today for a free consultation.