Boating, water sports, pools, and water parks are a source of summer fun for the whole family. Unfortunately, they can also be dangerous: the Centers for Disease Control reports that drowning is the second leading cause of injury death for children aged one to fourteen years. While no parent likes to dwell on the many sources of injury that can hurt their child, some simple safety measures can greatly reduce the chances of your child sustaining a water-related injury.
If your child has been injured by a water source, he or she may be entitled to compensation for any injuries sustained. Protect your child’s legal interests by consulting with the aggressive personal injury attorneys at the Dolman Law Group. Our lawyers have extensive experience in meeting the unique needs of child injury victims. Let us protect your child’s legal interests so you can focus on the road to recovery.
Why Water is So Dangerous
Drowning is a serious problem in the United States:
- Between 2005 and 2014, there was an average of 3, 535 fatal non-boating drowning accidents each year. Boating accidents caused another 332 fatal drowning accidents each year.
- About twenty percent of these drowning victims are children aged one to fourteen. For every child who dies from drowning, five more receive emergency department care for nonfatal submersion injuries.
- Near drowning incidents can lead to hypoxia (low oxygen) in the brain tissue. This causes memory problems, learning disabilities, and loss of basic motor functions. The longer the brain is deprived of oxygen, the worse these symptoms become.
- Worldwide, drowning is the third leading cause of unintentional death for children and youth.
Less serious – but still a source of injury – is the increased risk of slip and fall accidents around pools and water. These injuries are often overlooked for the greater risks of drowning. Nevertheless, slip and fall accidents can also cause serious brain and nerve damage. The most severe cases can even result in permanent paralysis.
Where Injuries Occur
Injuries can occur around any source of water. Some water sources are obvious, including:
- Open water (ocean, sea, lakes, etc.)
- Water parks
- Private pools
- Splash pads
- Diving boards
- Water slides
- Slippery pool decks
Most parents are on guard for water risks when they are obvious and expected but there are some places where you might not be expecting water to accumulate. In Florida, many shops and restaurants use mister systems to keep customers cool in the summer. These can cause unexpected puddles to form. Similarly, garden centers and nurseries often use hoses and misters to water their plants. These, too, can cause unforeseen hazards.
As the old adage goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Prevent drowning and water-related injuries with these safety tips:
- Teach children to be aware of their surroundings. Children tend to be impetuous and easily distracted. By being aware of their surroundings, they can identify and respond to risks before sustaining a slip or fall injury.
- Children should also be taught proper safety techniques around boats and other large recreational water equipment. Jet skis, kayaks, sailboats, and other equipment pose hazards for children. Teach them what parts to avoid and how to be safe around all recreational equipment.
- Check for any accumulation of water around the home. Bathtubs, buckets, and storage bins can all hold enough water to seriously harm a child. Drowning can occur in as little as one inch of water. Check the property surrounding your house for water accumulations in ponds, holes, ditches, and the like. Drain these accumulations as often as possible.
- Any water collection containers in or around your home should be barred with heavy grates. This includes wells, cisterns, barrels, and any other water collection device.
- Make sure your home pool has a study gate surrounding all possible access points. The fencing system should include your hot tub, spa or Jacuzzi, as well. Consider further measures such as pool alarms and solid pools covers.
- Your pool area should also be free of toys and other objects which might attract a child to the water.
Unfortunately, sometimes children do fall into the water. There are simple steps you can take to mitigate any damage that might occur when this happens:
- Children should wear life jackets or other personal flotation devices anytime they are on the open water. This includes boating, sailing, jet skiing, kayaking, boogie boarding, and any other activity that bears the risk of being in an open body of water. Air-filled and buoyant toys should never be used as flotation devices. These are not designed to protect a child from the dangers of open water.
- Swim lessons can help children learn techniques that will protect them, whether they are in a pool or open body of water. Experts have not yet reached a consensus about the age at which swimming lessons are an effective drowning prevention technique. Nonetheless, the sooner a child is prepared to respond to water hazards, the better his or her ability to survive a water injury.
- Adults should have ongoing education in CPR and first aid techniques. The first minutes after water submersion can make the difference between life and death. They can also determine the severity of hypoxia and the brain damage it causes.
- When supervising kids around water, adults should never become distracted from the children’s movements. Smartphones, food and drink, cards, conversation, reading, and many other activities can easily divert your attention. Unfortunately, water injuries happen quickly. Adults must be prepared to react quickly, as well. One survey of child drowning found that eighty-eight percent of the children had been under some form of supervision when the drowning occurred. Be vigilant, and be ready to react!
Contact an Experienced Florida Personal Injury Attorney Today
Contact the Dolman Law Group today to learn how we can protect your child’s legal rights after a water-related injury. Our Clearwater personal injury attorneys have extensive experience meeting the unique needs of children with personal injury claims. Call our office at (727) 451-6900 to schedule your free consultation.