According to media reports this summer, Florida leads the states in the number of children who are drowned in swimming pools. Now that summer has arrived, many families turn to swimming pools to beat the heat. However, many state experts claim that the habit leads to many fatalities as well as a wide range of injuries that include spinal cord injuries, broken limbs, brain injuries, and other problems. Unfortunately, children are most likely to be injured in swimming pools.
Earlier this summer, a six-year-old girl drowned at a pool party in Jacksonville. There were about six children in the pool and adults nearby, but no one saw the girl go under the surface. She was taken to Wolfson Children’s Hospital, where she was pronounced dead. Unfortunately, this story is one of many tragedies that involves pools in Florida.
Experts agree that swimming lessons and training at an early age can help prevent pool accidents. Pool safety equipment can also be a good idea. However, many experts and parents think that equipment and lessons alone cannot help. They point out that in many cases safety-vacuum release systems may be answer. However, this has caused a great deal of controversy in Florida.
In 2007, the Florida Building Commission decided that new pools do not need to have a safety-vacuum release system. A safety-vacuum release device automatically detects a blocked drain and shuts off the drain. This removes the suction that may drag a child down under the surface. For now, these devices are optional and many blame the pool industry trade association pressure which successfully lobbied to make the devices optional.
Many parent and safety groups urge parents to have these devices installed in their pools. The pool builders association contends that the devices give homeowners a false sense of security that their pools are safer. They also argue that the devices do not work in cases where a child’s limbs, fingers, or hair get caught in the drain.
There are other ways besides the devices to keep children safer in pools. Careful supervision and frequent “everyone out of the pool” breaks are often a good idea, especially when a pool has many children in it. A well-maintained pool is also essential, as are many drains to reduce the suction. Anti-entrapment drain covers also help prevent accidents.