Swimming Pool Safety Laws Protect Kids
McKenzie Merriam was 18 months old when she wandered into the pool at her Jacksonville home while her mother’s back was turned for a moment. The little girl died of drowning.
Preston de Ibern was five years old when he slipped away from his mother during a friend’s barbecue, hit his head and fell into the pool. He nearly drowned and suffered severe brain damage that left him with the cognitive ability of a six-month old child. He died at age 12 after suffering health problems related to the pool accident.
Virginia Graeme Baker was seven years old when she became caught in the drain of her friend’s pool. Two men had to pull with such force that they broke the drain cover to set the girl free from the intense suction.
These accidents highlight the dangers of residential pools. The parents of these children fought for laws that would save other families from the same heartbreak they experienced. Out of such tragedy was born the Preston de Ibern/McKenzie Merriam Residential Swimming Pool Safety Act and the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act (P&SS Act).
The Preston de Ibern/McKenzie Merriam Residential Swimming Pool Safety Act requires Florida pools to have at least one of these safety features:
- Barrier fence, wall or dwelling wall to restrict access by children
- Approved pool safety cover
- Exit alarm on all doors and windows providing access to the pool area
- Self-closing, self-latching device on doors and windows with pool access
Homeowners who violate Florida’s Residential Swimming Pool Safety Act may be charged with a misdemeanor.
The federal P&SS Act requires pools be equipped with anti-entrapment drain covers and other safety features. The statute also launched a national campaign to improve residential pool safety.
The Pool Safely: Simple Steps Save Lives program offers tips about keeping residential pools safe for children this summer, including:
- Watching children who are in the pool area
- Teaching children about water safety
- Keeping children away from drains
- Having a mobile phone nearby while at the pool
- Looking first in the pool if a child goes missing
As McKenzie’s, Preston’s and Virginia’s stories demonstrate, it only takes a few minutes for a child to slip away from the most loving, devoted parents. If your child was injured in a pool accident, a South Florida personal injury lawyer can investigate whether negligence contributed to her or his injuries.