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Florida Swimming Pool Safety and Liability Explained by Florida Personal Injury Lawyer

07/2/2019
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Tips from Florida Personal Injury Lawyer on How to avoid a Residential Swimming Pool Tragedy and Lawsuit

Woman: It’s time to Take 5. Now You Know.

Candi: Florida neighborhoods are known for having lots of swimming pools, so pool safety is a concern and homeowners need to understand the legal responsibility for securing their own pool. Here to explain what you need to know to best avoid a tragedy and the legal ramifications that can accompany it is Brian Denney [personal injury] of the law firm of Searcy Denney. Welcome, Brian.

Brian: Thank you.

Candi: So what are some of the common safety concerns that arise during the summer months?

Brian: One of the most common safety concerns in the summer months particularly between Memorial Day and Labor Day here in South Florida are children drowning in residential swimming pools. Florida essentially leads the nation or is in the top five in children drowning in residential swimming pools, particularly in the summer. Unlike the movies when you see children in the pool crying for help, they got their hands in the air, they’re splashing around, that’s not the way children drown. Unfortunately, it’s a silent killer. They usually don’t make any noise and before you know it, it’s too late. That’s why you gotta be very careful and take very, very strict precautions to be sure that doesn’t happen on your property.

Candi: Are there any rules that govern residential swimming pools?

Brian: Yes. Any new residential swimming pool that is built in the state of Florida has to comply with at least one of several safeguards according to the Florida statutes. A few of them are…one is to have a barrier around the entire pool. That’s one that’s separated from the house to prevent anybody from getting in. Number two is to have an alarm in the pool actually. So if someone gets into the water, an alarm goes off. Doors that shut automatically is another one. Alarms attached to any door leading to the pool is another one. Those are some of the things that…one of those things is required under Florida law if you’re building a new residential swimming pool.

Candi: So what are some things that the homeowner can do to make sure that their swimming pool is safe?

Brian: Perhaps the best thing you can do as a homeowner to be sure your pool is safe is to designate a water watcher. Particularly if you’re having a party at your house where there are gonna be a bunch of kids or children in the pool. You really need to have a water watcher, someone who is gonna stay sober and someone who’s responsible to watch the water at all times because we all know you can turn your back for one second, you know, with little kids and they can be gone, they can be in the water. You need to have somebody watching the water.

Some people, if they’re having a big party at their house and their budget allows for it will even hire a lifeguard who can go in the pool, play with the children, and also be a second set of eyes. And also lifeguards are trained in CPR so you have the added benefit of God forbid if something were to happen, you have someone there that knows how to do something about it. So really the best form of prevention at home is to have eyes on the water if you know kids are gonna be in the pool.

Also, you wanna be sure that your gates to your yard and your pool are secured. Why is that important? If you have…your landscaper is over at your house for example, if you have one, or if you have a pool…someone who cleans your pool for you, they will leave…sometimes leave gates open. So if they’re not self-closing, now you’ve got a situation where you’ve got a gate wide open. You’ve got your pool exposed. We know that pools attract children and that can result in tragedy if a child wanders on to your property, sees an opening, a gate, goes into the pool, because kids are curious. Next thing you know you got a tragedy on your hands. So those are some things you can do to be sure your pools are safe.

Candi: And what are the legal consequences to a property owner for having an unsecured pool?

Brian: Right, so if you’re building a new pool and you don’t comply with one of those things that I mentioned according to Florida statutes, that’s a second-degree misdemeanor in and of itself. And if you…a child drowns in your pool, even if they’re a trespasser, if they’re trespassing on your property and you didn’t have a fence around your pool, a barrier around your pool, a secure gate, you can be held responsible because under Florida law a pool is considered an attractive nuisance. That means something that a child is likely to be attracted to. And so you can be legally responsible even if you haven’t invited that child on your property. So not only is it a tragedy if that happens but you can also be held legally responsible if it indeed does happen.

Candi: Thank you so much, Brian.

Brian: My pleasure.

Candi: If you have any questions about your rights and pool safety, just visit searcylaw.com.

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