Swimming in a pool is all fun and games until someone starts to have trouble staying afloat. In the state of Florida, where pools exist in many backyards, parks and community centers, the risk of a swimming pool accident is ever-present.
On September 30, 2019, a pool party was hosted at the Wexford Park Apartments in Tampa. Guests were enjoying the complex’s pool when they noticed 2 girls go underwater. Giaonna Chavalier, age 4, and Harmony Williams, age 3, were swimming with 8 other children in attendance when they took off their floatation devices and went under.
The 3 adults chaperoning the party immediately sprang into action when they saw the girls struggling underneath the pool water’s surface. They were pulled out and CPR was performed until paramedics arrived and took them both to Tampa General Hospital.
Chavalier is expected to make a full recovery with no permanent injuries. Sadly, Williams was pronounced dead at the hospital.
It takes less than 5 minutes for a drowning accident to occur, and it happens most often at residential swimming pools.
Sheriff Chronister’s safety tips
Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister released a public service announcement earlier in 2019 to promote swimming pool safety. In the PSA, he wrote:
“A swimming pool is 14 times more likely than a car to be included in the death of a child less than 4 years old.”
With 2 sons of his own, Sheriff Chronister is eager to promote child safety, especially around the pool. Here are his safety tips:
- Never assume an infant or toddler can’t get in the pool. Not all kids love water but living in Florida, it’s almost guaranteed they’ll be swimming before they start walking. Pools look like an awful lot of fun when everyone else in them, so it’s important to keep an eye on children, especially when they’re 4 years old or younger.
- Install a gate around the pool with alarms that alert the owner when the gate is opened. Children are smarter than adults may think. Even gates that seem difficult to open can still be done by a child. This is why installing an alarm to notify parents when the gate is opened will go a long way towards preventing their child from drowning.
- Check for slip hazards such as toys, floatation devices and cleaning supplies. Doing this daily, especially during the summer, will reduce the risk of slipping and falling into the pool significantly.
- Properly teach children how to swim. It’s never too early to teach children how to swim. This ability doesn’t give children or adults immunity from drowning, but it’s still an important life skill that could save their lives.
Florida swimming pool laws
Drowning is number 5 on the list of leading causes of unintentional injury or death in the U.S. Florida’s Residential Swimming Pool Safety Act dictates the safety measures all Florida residents must follow if they have a pool on their property, including:
- 4-foot minimum tall fence
- Pool or hot tub cover
- Alarms on doors and window leading to the pool
When it comes to swimming pool safety, especially for the lives of children, none of these measures should be skirted. It’s the law, and it’s there for a reason.