There may be nothing more relaxing and refreshing than taking a dip in a swimming pool this summer, but pools can also be fraught with danger and liability if you are not careful.

To remind parents, homeowners and families about the importance of pool safety across the Delaware Valley, MyPhillyLawyer attorney Dean I. Weitzman will appear at 7 a.m. Thursday, June 30,  on the “Better Philly” program on WPHL-17 TV to share his legal insights and a collection of swimming pool safety tips.

Last month, MyPhillyLawyer published a blog post about pool safety which is a great guide to ensuring that your family and pool guests are safe while swimming on your property.

Children enjoy playing in a swimming pool. Image credit: © iStockphoto.com/CEFutcher

Children enjoy playing in a swimming pool. Image credit: © iStockphoto.com/CEFutcher

Weitzman will remind “Better Philly” viewers of some of the main points about pool safety with five key safety tips:

*Completely Fence The Perimeter Around Your Pool – by closing off the pool to children who could wander into your yard, you can prevent accidental drownings and protect yourself from liability.

*Be Sure That All Young Children Playing Near Pools Are Wearing Life Vests – if a child should accidentally fall into a pool, they will be better protected by wearing an approved life vest.

*Never, Ever Leave Children Unsupervised Near A Pool – that means NEVER. If children are to be around or in a pool, they MUST be properly and adequately supervised by an adult who can swim and is trained in rescue techniques.

*Keep Rescue Equipment By The Pool At All Times – including a life ring and rope, a first aid kit and flotation devices.

*Parents Must Be Encouraged to Learn CPR – by knowing how to save a life in the event of an emergency, homeowners can protect their guests and themselves before rescue workers ever arrive.

According to statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drownings are the second leading cause of death among young children.

“Ten people die per day from drowning in the U.S. according to the CDC,” Weitzman said. “One  child a day in our nation dies from drowning. Another four children are injured daily in swimming pools. That’s too many.”

The rate of drownings for African-American children ages five to 14 is 3.1 times higher than for white children, according to the CDC, often because they never learned to swim. “That is an impossible statistic to accept,” Weitzman said.

Prevention and training are the keys to reducing the death rates, he said.

“Foam toys, like arm-flotation devices, are not life-saving tools,” Weitzman said. “In fact, relying on those could be causing more deaths than they save” by giving people a false sense of security.

The risk of drowning in a pool can be reduced by 83% by surrounding the pool with a four-sided fence, he said. And there’s another 88% reduction in drowning rates by teaching children how to swim before they ever set foot in a pool.

An average of 385 children under 15 years of age died annually in the U.S. due to pool or spa drownings from 2005 through 2007, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and its Pool Safely safety campaign. Of those, 78%, or 299, were under the age of five.

As a homeowner, you must be vigilant, pro-active and firm about setting safety rules and enforcing them so that guests and family members aren’t accidentally injured or worse.

In the U.S., 37 drownings and 38 near-drownings were reported this year before the Memorial Day holiday weekend and the unofficial start of summer, according to government statistics.

Meanwhile, there are other dangers in pools, including entrapments – where a person is trapped by the powerful suction of an underwater pool drain that prevents them from surfacing and getting air.

According to the CPSC, from 1999 to 2009, there were 94 reports of pool, spa or whirlpool entrapment incidents that left 12 people dead and injured another 79. About 75% of those victims were under 15 years of age and 50% of the cases involved swimming pools. The victims died or were injured due to broken or missing outlet covers on the drains, which allowed them to be held against the drain underwater due to the pressure of the draining water from which they could not escape.

Such tragedies led in 2007 to the passage of the federal Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act (P&SS Act), named for a little girl who died in such an accident in 2002 in a hot tub. Virginia Graeme Baker was the granddaughter of former U.S. Secretary of State James Baker III. The law, which went into effect in December of 2008, mandated new requirements for pool and spa safety and led to the national promotion of pool safety efforts.

This past March, the CPSC issued a press release describing how some pool drain covers that were believed to comply with the P&SS Act might have been improperly tested, leading users of some drain covers to have covers that might not have an adequate level of protection. The investigation into the improper testing is continuing.

“We all must do everything we can to make pools safer for children who play in them,” Weitzman said. “It’s summer and time to have fun. Please join me in making your swimming pool safer for your family and guests so we can all prevent tragedies from ruining this great season.”

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