Florida leads the country in the number of drowning deaths involving children between the ages of one and four. As the Florida Department of Health reports, drowning causes more deaths among children of this age group than any other cause.
It is the responsibility of swimming pool owners to take all reasonable steps necessary to reduce the risk of drowning deaths among young children in the state. Our attorneys in West Palm Beach represent family members of drowning victims. Call David J. Glatthorn for help after a swimming pool accident.
Preventing Drowning Fatalities in Florida
The state of Florida passed the Residential Swimming Pool Safety Act and codified it in Chapter 515 of the Florida Statutes. According to the Act, all new residential swimming pools and spas built after October 1, 2000 have to include at least one type of pool safety features as specified in the law.
Approved safety features must include a barrier such as a fence, dwelling wall or non-dwelling wall that surrounds the pool and obstructs access to the area. Pools must have an approved safety cover, and all doors and windows that provide direct access from the house to the swimming pool area must have an exit alarm. Further, all doors that provide direct access from home to pool must also have a self-closing, self-latching device that is placed at least 54 inches above the floor.
Failure to equip residential swimming pools with required safety features is a second-degree misdemeanor. This means that you face criminal charges and penalties if you do not protect your pool.
Pool owners need to take the rules seriously not just to avoid the potential for criminal convictions but also to save lives. Drowning can occur silently and it can take only one minute for a child to drown. When a child falls into a pool but survives, the average hospital stay for treatment is two days with a median charge for admission of $10,713. With such high costs, it should come as no surprise that the monetary costs of drowning statewide exceeds $16 billion each year.
Despite the protective rules, however, more than 90 percent of homes in Florida with swimming pools were built before the law and thus may not be obligated to specifically follow it. However, this does not mean that pool owners should be lax about safety. Pool owners are still responsible for exercising reasonable care to prevent drowning injuries and must also follow municipal building codes requiring the securing of swimming pools so children do not get hurt.
If a swimming pool owner fails to follow safety rules or does not take the steps that a reasonable person would to prevent an injury or death in the pool, then he or she could be sued for damages that resulted from such negligence.
IIf you or a loved one is injured in a swimming pool accident, visit http://www.davidglatthornlaw.com or contact David J. Glatthorn at 800-990-9394 to discuss your rights. Serving Palm Beach County and all of South Florida.