With summer here, it ‘s a great time to remind everyone of the various dangers and liabilities of swimming pools. Although they can provide a lot of fun, backyard and public pools alike pose a serious risk to those who don’t look out for the potential safety flaws in their summer fun.
Water slides of all kinds can be another serious risk. If a rider is on a slide that has too powerful of a flow of water, they can be potentially thrown from the slide, causing serious injury. Lifeguards or attendants not paying attention to what they are doing may also send too many riders down in quick succession, leading to a dangerous pile-up at the exit of the slide, which may empty into a pool that is not sized or filled properly, creating another potential hazard. Finally, as recent news has shown us, the flawed design, construction, or maintenance, especially of water park slides, can open up possibilities of serious injury and even death.
Even basic safety components of a pool can create lesser-known risks.
Diving boards are one major area of concern. A large variety of diving board accidents are possible if the board has not been properly installed or maintained. Various possibilities include lacerations or puncture wounds from sharp edges or bolts sticking out of the board, broken bones from slipping and falling on or near the board, and neck or spine injuries, also caused by a slip and fall. According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, there are more than 11,000 spinal cord injuries in the United States every year that involve diving boards. Beyond these, more serious injuries are possible including traumatic brain injuries from hitting one’s head on the board or railing, a shallow water dive, or a more serious fall from the board. Finally, deaths are also possible when a diver is accidentally knocked unconscious and falls into the water, drowning; or if a diver breaks something and is incapable of swimming to safety.
One such basic element is the marking of the depth of the pool. When the depth is not clearly and consistently marked, swimmers diving into the pool may be at risk of a shallow dive injury, hitting their heads on the bottom of a pool they thought was much deeper. Cleaning equipment, when left in use while swimmers are present or improperly handled, creates a drowning risk if a swimmer gets caught in it somehow. The same thing goes for drains and skimming grates, which can catch hair and hold a swimmer under the water.
Finally, we should mention the importance of lifeguards always being present, especially at public pools. Many hotels post signs informing patrons that they “Swim At Their Own Risk” but this is a dereliction of their duties. These pools are open to families and children, and if the hotels in question truly wanted to safeguard their guests to the best of their abilities, they would post trained and licensed lifeguards at their pools when they are open.
We hope everyone enjoys their summer and spends some time relaxing by the pool. Please keep in mind while pools are a lot of fun, safety should be held at the very top of mind.