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No one thinks a swimming pool accident could happen to him or her…until it does. A kid sneaking into your pool, someone slipping on your pool deck or a broken drain catching a swimmer’s hair could all lead to tragedy. Drowning is the fifth cause of unintentional injury death in America, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. One in five drowning deaths involves a child 14 or younger. California recently passed a new law in the hopes of reducing the number of swimming pool accidents, injuries and deaths in the state.
In 1997, California lawmakers added the Swimming Pool Safety Act to the state’s Health and Safety Code. This act lists important safety efforts pool owners in the state must obey. The main rule is that pool owners must implement at least one of seven drowning prevention safety features. Drowning prevention features could mean the difference between life and death at a residential swimming pool.
Adding proper drowning prevention features under California’s Pool Safety Act could keep children away from dangerous swimming pools and home spas.
Most swimming pool fatalities involving young children occur in residential pools rather than public bodies of water. Many parents and guardians assume their children know not to go into the pool unsupervised, or else they know how to swim. Making these assumptions could be fatal for children.
Never leave kids unsupervised in a home swimming pool. If you or a loved one was injured due to negligence or non-compliance at a pool, contact us. During a free consultation with our personal injury attorneys, you can explore your legal options.
Twenty years after the Swimming Pool Safety Act first went into effect, lawmakers added to the measure. As of January 1st, 2018, pool owners in California must install two drowning prevention features, not just one. Adding an extra prevention feature could potentially lower the state’s high number of drowning incidents. In 2017, 51 children five and younger died in drowning incidents throughout California. Twenty-three of these deaths occurred in swimming pools.
A pool owner in California must have a fence and a pool alarm, a pool cover and gate, removable mesh fencing and a door alarm or any combination of two safety features to prevent drowning. Law enforcement did not give a grace period to comply with the new law. As of the law’s effective date, all pool owners in the state must have at least two drowning prevention measures, or else they could face legal repercussions for noncompliance.
The two safety measures must meet the state’s requirements. For example, a pool enclosure must have a self-closing and self-latching gate that opens away from the swimming pool. The minimum height for a valid enclosure is 60 inches. The gate, fence or barrier cannot have any gaps greater than four inches, and cannot have any physical traits that could make the enclosure easy to climb for a child under age five. All seven California pool safety features have similar requirements for owners to follow.
Daycares and other infant care centers have specific pool laws they must obey in California. The law states there must be at least one staff member for every four infants during activities involving bodies of water. These can include swimming pools, ponds, basins, bathtubs and other sources of water children can climb into unassisted. Near other bodies of water, the mandatory ratio changes to one staff member per every two infants. A daycare center that is negligent in providing adequate supervision to infants around bodies of water could be liable for water-related accidents, including unintentional drowning.