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Water Safety: Manage Risks In & Around The Water

The Becker Law Firm

The Becker Law Firm is proud to show our support for the American Red Cross and its efforts to raise awareness about staying safe in and around the water.

As people across the country prepare for America’s “Re-Opening,” relaxed Stay-at-Home orders, and warmer weather, it’s natural to assume many will want to get out and enjoy some recreational time in the water – whether it be a local lake, river, or a swimming pool. If time in the water is part of your plans post-quarantine, it’s important to put safety first.

As a firm that’s fought for families who’ve suffered in the wake of drownings and water-related accidents, attorneys at The Becker Law Firm want to share information about water safety statistics, ways to stay safe, and legal remedies available to those who suffer preventable harm.

Water Safety Statistics

The World Health Organization and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cite drowning as a global public health problem. In 2015 alone, an estimated 360,000 people died as a result of drowning – making it the third leading cause of unintentional injury-related death.

Here’s a closer look at the numbers:

  • Between 2005 and 2014, there were an average of 3,536 fatal non-boating unintentional drownings annually in the U.S. – a number that equates to roughly 10 deaths each day. An additional 332 people died each year due to boating-related drowning incidents.
  • Drowning is a leading cause of death among children ages 14 and younger; roughly 1 in 5 people who die from drowning are children. For each child who dies from drowning, an additional 5 children require emergency care for nonfatal submersion injuries.
  • 69% of children who drown were not expected to be in or near water.
  • Over half of all drowning victims treated in ER departments require hospitalization or transfer for specialized care.
  • Nonfatal drowning injuries can cause severe brain injuries, including brain damage that results in long-term disabilities.
  • Nearly 80% of people who die from drowning in America are male.

Managing Risks With Water Safety Basics

Though swimming and water recreation pose real risks, studies have confirmed that participation in formal swimming lessons can substantially reduce drowning risks among young children. This includes learning the 5 essential skills of water competency that can save your life in the water.

According to the American Red Cross, water competency means you’re able to:

  1. Step or jump into water above your head;
  2. Return to the surface and be able to tread water or float for at least 1 minute;
  3. Turn around in a full circle and locate an exit;
  4. Swim 25 yards to the exit without stopping; and
  5. Exit the water on your own without using a pool ladder.

The American Red Cross promotes its “Circle of Drowning Prevention,” a systematic approach that focuses on “layers” of protection to prevent drowning.

When planning ahead for water activities, take the following precautions:

  • Be sure you or another adult will be able to provide close and constant supervision when children are in or near water.
  • If you have a pool or spa, fence them with adequate barriers, including four-sided fencing, to prevent unsupervised access. You should also install anti-entrapment drain covers and safety release systems to prevent drain entrapment.
  • Learn swimming or water-safety survival skills. The American Red Cross provides resources for swimming lessons, including a free Swim app and list of Learn-to-Swim providers nationwide.
  • Have boaters, children, and inexperienced swimmers wear Coast Guard-approved life jackets.
  • Always swim in areas that have lifeguards.
  • Look into learning First Aid and CPR / AED skills so you know how to respond to emergencies. First Aid / CPR classes may be offered in your local community. You can also find class programs and providers through the American Red Cross.

You can find more helpful tips and resources from the American Red Cross.

Legal Rights & Remedies for Accident Victims

When it comes to preventable drowning accidents and near-drownings, victims and families may have the right to seek justice and compensation for their damages, including their medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering. While a personalized case evaluation can help you better understand the merits of a potential case, accident claims are hinged on proving fault and liability.

Water-related accidents may require extensive investigation and the filing of civil personal injury or wrongful death lawsuits against negligent parties such as:

  • Property owners who fail to take reasonable care in keeping their premises in a safe condition (i.e. failing to address dangerous conditions, failing to provide life-saving equipment, inadequate supervision, and more);
  • Manufacturers of defective products that cause or contribute to drowning incidents, such as floatation devices or toys that cause submersion and defective pool equipment that entraps swimmers.
  • Summer camps, youth organizations, and other entities that offer recreational swimming;
  • Public facilities (including cities), homeowners’ associations, and other entities responsible for the use and maintenance of swimming pools; and
  • Negligent boaters, including boaters who operate their vessels under the influence.

The Becker Law Firm has been representing injured victims and families across Ohio since 1980 and has amassed a record of success in complex cases involving negligence and preventable injury or death – including one recent $2.5M settlement obtained by Partner Romney Cullers on behalf of 12-year-old boy who drowned while swimming at an overnight summer camp in rural Ohio.

If you have questions about a potential case, contact us to speak with a lawyer.

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