There are swimming pools everywhere in Florida, and children love being in them. Most parents are aware of the danger of drowning, a silent death that only takes seconds to occur. Many times, this tragedy happens in just inches of water. Unfortunately, toddlers may drown because they are simply not aware that they cannot open their mouths and breathe while underwater. In addition, children might trip at the edge of the pool or suffer slip-and-fall injuries while running. The pool drain is yet another potential source of injury, even death, but it is something parents might not think about.
The problem with drains
The water circulation in a pool or spa creates a powerful suction, and if a swimmer gets near it, the sensation can be like getting caught up in a whirlpool. Old drain covers are flat and can trap hair or a body part if they become blocked. To avoid such hazards, pools and spas are now required to have safer, curved drains that cannot be fully blocked by any body part.
The namesake for the act
Virginia Graeme Baker was a seven-year-old girl who was a good swimmer and a member of the swim and diving team in her community. She was trapped underwater after becoming stuck in a hot tub drain and drowned despite frantic efforts to save her. After Virginia’s death, her mother became an advocate for pool and spa safety and brought her work to the attention of Congress. United States Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida sponsored legislation resulting from Virginia’s death, and in December 2007, President George W. Bush signed the VGB Act into law.
The greatest cause of toddler deaths
According to poolsafety.gov, 202 children between the ages of 1 and 14 drowned in the United States in 2013. Information gathered by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control shows that drowning is responsible for more deaths among children aged 1 to 4 than any other cause, except congenital anomalies. Devastating injuries can be caused at pools as well, especially brain damage that may require long-term treatment and possibly lifelong care. Keeping the VGB Act in mind, parents should check to make sure the swimming pools where they take their children use anti-entrapment drain covers.
When a child suffers an injury in a swimming pool incident, the owner of the pool can be held responsible in the ensuing legal action. In determining how the accident occurred, investigators will examine the premises. If a faulty drain played a part in the accident, the pool owner may be in violation of the VGB Act. An attorney experienced with cases involving personal injury will go to work for any family whose child suffered a swimming pool injury, including the frightening issue of entrapment.