A Spotlight on Water Safety

Following a tragic event in Ridgefield, water safety needs more attention.

Unfortunately, the highlights a dangerous situation that can result from swimming pools. Approximately 10 people a day die from unintentional drowning. Drowning ranks fifth among the leading causes of unintentional injury death in the United States. It is therefore important to take a second look at water safety, and what can be done to avoid these tragedies. 

It should be stressed that drowning doesn’t necessarily look like the dramatic event you see on television. It can happen quickly and quietly. Of the children who drown each year, about half of them will do so within 25 yards of an adult. People who are seconds away from submerging will not be able to scream or wave for help; they go into an involuntary response wherein their sole objective is to breathe and stay above water.

Parents should not be engaged in any other distracting activity while supervising children in and around water, even if lifeguards are present. Constantly supervise children when they are near or in water as drowning can occur in seconds. Make sure you enroll your child in formal swimming lessons, so they are able to swim if they end up in water that is over their head.  However, even when children have had formal swimming lessons, careful supervision and barriers, such as pool fencing, are still important. It is also important to remember that Air-Filled or Foam Toys are not safety devices, and should not be used in place of life jackets.

Advice for Your Next Water Filled Adventure, especially where children are involved, could include:

Use the buddy system, and never swim alone. Select swimming sites that have lifeguards whenever possible:

  • Avoid drinking alcohol before or during swimming, or near water. Do not drink alcohol while supervising children; 
  • Use the buddy system, and never swim alone. Select swimming sites that have lifeguards whenever possible; and 
  • Strong winds and thunderstorms with lightning strikes are dangerous.  Check your local weather forecast before swimming or boating.


If you have a swimming pool at home:


  • Install a four-sided pool fence at least 4 feet high that completely separates the pool area from the house and yard. Use barriers such as automatic door locks out of the reach of children to prevent unsupervised access and alarms to alert you if someone enters the pool area; 
  • Remove floats and other toys from the pool and surrounding area immediately after use so children are not tempted to enter the pool area unsupervised to retrieve these items; and
  • Prevent people from jumping off of areas, places or things into the pool that could create a risk of injury, such as elevated decks, and limit horseplay. 


Keep in mind that seconds count, and registering in a local CPR class could save a life. CPR performed by bystanders has been shown to save lives and improve outcomes in drowning victims. Have a fun-filled summer and be ever vigilant for situations that might result in a dangerous and tragic outcome.

Richard P. Hastings is a Connecticut personal injury lawyer at Hastings, Cohan & Walsh, LLP, with offices throughout the state. A graduate of Fordham Law School, he has been named a New England Super Lawyer and is the author of the books: "The Crash Course on Child Injury Claims"; "The Crash Course on Personal Injury Claims in Connecticut" and "The Crash Course on Motorcycle Accidents." He has also co-authored the best selling book "Wolf in Sheep's Clothing- What Your Insurance Company Doesn't Want You to Know and Won't Tell You Until It's Too Late!" He can be reached at 1(888)CTLAW-00 or by visiting www.hcwlaw.com.


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