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Ken Margolin
Ken Margolin
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Swimming Pool Accidents

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Swimming season is not far off, and with it will come the inevitable swimming pool tragedies. Most likely to experience pool accidents are children, usually because they fall into pools while supervising adults are not present. Persons with backyard pools who have children, or whose neighbors have children, are therefore advised to install appropriate fences, door alarms and/or pool covers to prevent very young children from accidentally drowning. Swimming ability of pool users also helps, though is no guarantee of safety, as evidenced by the instances every year, of skilled swimmers drowning in swimming pools.

Diving accidents are most commonly the cause of severe pool-related injuries and deaths in adults, most often occuring to males. Most diving accidents occur because the water is not deep enough to slow or stop the diver before he hits the bottom. Often a visual examination from above cannot convey an accurate sense of how deep the water is. Moreover, it can be difficult to see the curve of the pool’s submerged walls or to see where the water level is along the upper portion of the side walls. Light conditions, time of day, water clarity, refraction and other visual obstacles or tricks interfere with reliably gauging how much water is in a pool in the absence of markings clearly indicating the depth. Having the depth of the water clearly marked can mitigate such ambiguity. Failure to have such markings, depending on forseeable use of the pool, and other factors, may be negligent.

Diving boards magnify the risk of diving accidents. Many private and public pools remove them or no longer install them at all, which is not to say that there is anything inherently wrong with having a diving board. The reasonableness of the height that a diving board should be above the water, as well as reasonableness of the depth of the water below it, may vary considerably, dependintg on forseeable use. A high diving board that is suitable for a private club with competitive divers amongst the members, and with clear rules for pool and board use, may be unreasonable if placed above a motel pool, where no supervisor is present and where children of all ages and abilities can be expected to play. Robyn Shelton, staff writer for the Orlando Sentinel, provides a good short-list of considerations to help avoid swimming pool deaths, in her “Health Check” blog.