When you fly over Jackson, Ridgeland, The City of Madison, Flowood, or any of the surrounding cities you get a good idea how many homeowners have a swimming pool. Frankly, it amazes me the number of backyard pools. Spring is upon us and soon children will be out of school and either headed toward their backyard pools or to local public or private pools. Hopefully everyone knows some of the basic swimming safety rules, but if not take a minute to look over this list.
First and foremost all children need to be taught to swim as early as possible. The first swimming lesson that kids are given is what to do if they accidentally fall into a pool or other body of water. Generally that means “get to the side and grab on.” My son started swimming late. He was about 4 years old. We waited longer than we should have but since he has some learning problems, we felt teaching him earlier was not practicable. Our decision to send our son to classes came because we decided to put in pool. I went with my son to the lessons and it was interesting to watch a child learn to swim. Honestly, it was a little painful, but then things that are good for kids in the long run can sometime be painful.
Once your child learns to swim he/she needs to be taught other basic safety rules like: Do not push other people in the pool. Stay away from the edge or don’t try to reach for objects in the pool. Stay away from the water valve at the bottom of the pool. Kids that have reached the right maturity can understand these issues but young kids will not. With the younger kids the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends you never leave small children alone, even for just a minute while you run and get something in the house. Children can drown in just a matter of minutes. It is suggested that you stay within touch distance for any child under 5 years of age.
If you put in a backyard pool then your insurance company is going to require you to put a fence around the pool. In legal language a pool is called an attractive nuisance. A pool is one of those things that draws children like the sound of the ice cream truck. The fence should be at least 4 feet tall and go around all four sides with a secure lock above the reach of the children. It is also smart or a safe approach to have a pool alarm. When we put in our pool we of course had a 6 foot high fence. We had a pool alarm and several shepherd’s hooks at each end of the pool along with floating rings for tossing to swimmers. We were still concerned about our child so we installed locks on all of the doors going out of our home. The locks were high enough so our child could not reach them and we had a note by each one that read: Is the Door Locked?
This kept us on our toes and made sure the backdoors to the pool were always secure.
I mentioned this earlier but the suctions on pools can be very dangerous. I just read a case where a 6 year old child drown when he swam down to the drain and the force of the drain held him down. The sitter had run in the house to get a towel and left the kid in the care of another person who, guess what? Could not swim! It broke my heart to read about the dad running out of the house and diving into the pool to rescue his child, but it was too late. There is currently a safety device you can put on pools that will cut off the suction in something gets in the drain. This is a good idea.
There are other safety rules a person can observe. I think these are the major ones talked about most of the time. In my mind carefully watching any child who uses your pool is the best safety device that can exist. If your child goes to another location to swim, make sure these safety rules are observed. Remember as parents it is our job to watch out for the safety of our kids-they just don’t think that much about safety when they are trying to have fun.
Merrida Coxwell has practiced law for over 30 years. During those years he has focused his practice on serious, accident and injury cases, criminal defense, and financial fraud. Merrida has obtained judgements and settlements for clients that total over $300 million dollars.
Disclaimer: This blog is intended as general information purposes only, and is not a substitute for legal advice. Anyone with a legal problem should consult a lawyer immediately.