Children and unwatched swimming pools are a deadly match.
After the July 4th holiday the New York area has had a series of unfortunate drowings of young children in their backyard pools. In one very sad story from Long Island, the family’s houseeeper found the youngster drowning in the pool. Despite the fact that the housekeeper could not swim and had a fear of water, she dove into the pool to save the child. The child has survived, but the housekeeper drowned.
Parents must be very, very viligant regarding their children and swimming pools. Young children should not be allowed to play unattended in the pool area as well as at the beach.
Where a young child is present and has not been taught swimming, a “child-proof” fence should be erected to keep-out the child and his friends. That parents also must make sure that their child is able to bypass or the lock. An unlocked or open gate is as good as no gate.
“Child-proofing” a pool also applies to people who do not have a child living in the house. For example, grandparents would be responsible if the grandchild fell into an unguarded pool where the grandparents had the child over for the weekend.
An example of “child-proofing” the pool with fencing and a gate
A concerned parent should also purchase alarms for the pool. Such alarms can include ones which detect when someone is entering the pool or when a child is leaning over the edge and playing in the water. Also, the gate and fencing can be alarmed with either a siren or voice alarm. These alarms are readily available and can be installed by the homeowner. Alarms are not expensive. In view of the expense of building and maintaining the pool and the great danger of an infant drowning, the failure to install alarms is a false economy.
A simple pool alarm can save a child
Homeowners should also be aware that their swimming pools can attract youngsters when the homeowners are absent. For example, an unguarded and unfenced swimming pool can attract children in the neighborhood who may trespass to either play or swim. Even though the children are trespassing and even though the children’s parents should be watching them, the homeowner may be found liable if the homeowner knew or had reason to know that children either played in the backyard or used the pool. Trespassing by the children would not be a defense.
About ten years ago we handled a drowning case of a young man of about 12 years of age. The grief of the mother was unfathomable. We urge that parents and homeowners be very careful about keeping their swimming pools safe from children.
Mark E. Seitelman, 7/9/08, www.seitelman.com