While swimming pools are recognized as one of the greatest luxuries in owning a home, they are also one of the greatest responsibilities. Especially in the southern United States, in-ground and above-ground pools are quite common, however without the proper precautions and safety measures, swimming pools can be quite hazardous for adults and children alike.
In the southern states, more specifically the Sun Belt, the leading cause of accidental fatalities in children ages 5 and under is drowning. More than 300 children under the age of 5 die from accidental drowning in swimming pools annually. Another 2,000 are admitted to hospital emergency rooms because of injuries related to submersion. These fatalities and injuries occur in swimming pools that typically belong to the families or neighbors and friends. They are avoidable injuries, and with the right safety measures the victims and families of victims can avoid dealing with tragic losses and very expensive medical bills.
Medical costs vary by severity of injury and the hospitalization itself, and can costs thousands of dollars for even basic treatment. Simple injuries can start at $2,000 for medical treatment, while severe submersion injuries that lead to head trauma and brain damage can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars as more hospital time is required, and additional home rehabilitation and therapy are necessary for recovery. A hospital stay of 100 days or more can cost between $175,000 and $200,000 based on treatment and the severity of injuries.
While a rising number of housing neighborhoods throughout the U.S. are establishing rules of aesthetics when it comes to above ground pools, many communities and cities are also creating rules that regulate the safety and use of in-ground pools. However, the responsibility of swimming pool safety begins with the owner, and it is strongly recommended that safety measures be taken on any swimming pool, regardless of structure or size, especially when there is a presence of children.
Injuries and drowning related to swimming pools are the result of a lack of proper safety features and barriers surrounding the swimming pools. There are a wide variety of safety features that can be used in conjunction with swimming pools that do not detract from the enjoyment and recreation of the pool and make sure that your swimming pool doesn’t end up costing you thousands of dollars in medical bills or someone’s life. Safety barriers include pool fences, gates, covers, and door alarms. While none of these options will guarantee the prevention of injuries and fatalities, they at least reduce the chance of the worst occurring substantially.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, 75 percent of submersion victims are between 1 and 3 years old, and 65 percent of those are male.
Prior to most pool-related accidents, the majority of children were under the supervision of at least one parent. Of swimming pool-related injuries and fatalities, 46 percent had previously been in the residence, 23 percent were in the yard or patio area, and 31 percent were already in or around the pool. Sixty-nine percent of all child victims were not supposed to be in or near a swimming pool.
Of swimming pool-related injuries to children that occur at a residence, 65 percent of them happen at the home owned by the parents, and 33 percent occur at a pool that belongs to a family friend or neighbor.
Of children who are victims of drowning in swimming pools, 77 percent had not been seen for five minutes prior to being discovered. While adults have better reaction time, greater strength to fight, and the ability to hold their breath for longer times, children can drown within seconds. The difference between survival, brain damage and death for a child is seconds.
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