Every year, about 260 children under the age of five die from drowning in swimming pools. Drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death for children under 14, with motor vehicle accidents being the first. The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that most children who drown are found after about 10 minutes of being submerged. Children usually lose consciousness after being under water for only two minutes and irreversible damage to the brain often occurs after approximately four to six minutes of being under water. There are currently no national laws governing the safety of pools.
In December of 2006, New York enacted legislation requiring residential pools built or renovated on or after December 14th, 2006 to have a pool safety alarm installed. The legislation does not apply to existing pools. On April 24th, Majority Leader of the Suffolk County Legislature Jon Cooper (D-Huntington) proposed a bill which would require all pools owners to install an alarm that would sound when someone enters their pool while it is unattended.
The bill, which is scheduled for its second public hearing tomorrow, has recently gained more support after the death of Anthony Muniz, a 3-year old who tragically drowned on June 6th after he climbed over a fence and gained access to a neighbor’s pool. The proposed legislation is now being called “Anthony’s Law.” If enacted, Suffolk County would be the first county in the country to require that all pools be alarmed.
Although the $200 to $300 alarms are a protective safety measure, they should not be the only method used by pool owners to prevent accidental drownings. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends “layers of protection” such as installing barriers like self-closing fences with self-latching gates that surround the entire pool.
The National Safety Council, which reports that almost 3,000 people die each year from drowning, reminds parents to always keep an eye on a child near the beach, at a pool, and in the bathtub. It is also important to keep in mind that even inflatable pools, which are only about two feet deep and are not governed by local building codes which require barriers, can pose a danger to children. The personal injury lawyers at Levine & Slavit have decades of experience in handling personal injury claims. If you or someone close to you has been injured in an accident, contact the offices of Levine & Slavit in for their help. Levine & Slavit has offices in Manhattan and Long Island, handling cases in New York City, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and surrounding areas including Westchester County.