Preventing Child Drowning Deaths in Swimming Pools

With the longer, hotter days of summer, the use of swimming pools increases dramatically. This rise in pool use also causes an increased risk of drowning.

Young children are particularly susceptible to drowning and may drown in as little as a few inches of water in just a few minutes. Child safety advocates recommend waiting to put a swimming pool in a yard until a child is at least five years old.

Pool owners should take certain steps to decrease children's risk of drowning. If they fail to do so, and a child drowns, there may be grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit.

Pool Safety Tips

First, children should never be left alone inside or near a pool. An adult who has learned CPR should supervise at all times, and children under five should be within arm's reach of an adult at all times.

A fence at least four feet high should be installed, completely enclosing the pool, separating the pool from the house. The fence should be self-closing and self-latching, with the latch high enough that a child cannot reach it.

Rescue equipment and a telephone should be kept by the pool, and only approved life vests should be used. All toys should be removed from the pool when it is not in use, and the pool should be secured as soon as everyone is finished swimming.

Signs of Drowning

It is important to remain on alert while supervising swimming children and to know the signs of drowning. Hollywood portrays drowning victims loudly screaming for help and thrashing around violently to catch a rescuer's attention. Drowning in real life is not so melodramatic, but is undeniably real.

Many people are incapable of calling for help when they are drowning; consequently, drowning is much quieter than might be expected.

Additionally, drowning people instinctively press down against the water in an attempt to push their mouths out of the water. At this point, they are unable to voluntarily control their arm movements and wave, move toward a rescuer or reach for equipment.

A drowning victim's body tends to remain upright, and a person is capable of struggling in the water for only 20 to 60 seconds before going under for good. Because a child will lose consciousness in only two minutes, and because the signs of drowning may be barely noticeable, pool owners must pay close attention to young swimmers.


If a pool owner fails to take the necessary or legally required steps to protect others from injury, including drowning, they can be found negligent and required to pay damages for death or injuries caused by that negligence.