In the wake of the passage of Florida’s new residential pool safety law, there’s been a lot of attention on what homeowners here in JAX can do to keep swimmers safe and what swimmers should be looking out for when using their own or someone else’s pool.
A recent accident shows how something fun like a swimming pool can turn into tragedy in the blink of an eye and underscores how the measures called for in the law could help keep people safe. In JAX recently, a 5-year-old girl in Jacksonville left her home last week and drowned in a neighbor’s pool. This was the third incident where a child drowned or nearly drowned in the Jacksonville area in the month of July, according to reports.
Although the backyard of the girl’s home shares a fence with the backyard of the neighbor with the pool, the in-ground pool itself didn’t have a fence surrounding it, according to News4Jax. Previously, when that pool was built, a fence around a pool wasn’t required, but under the new law that feature and others are now required. Accidents can happen to anyone, but lawmakers appear to be trying to make them less common.
Here are some safety features the new law requires.
One of the main safety measures under Florida’s new law requires that every residential pool must have a barrier around it. The barrier must be at least four feet high on the outside and have no gaps, openings, indentations or any other components where a young child could crawl under, climb over, or squeeze through. The barrier must also be placed away from the water’s edge. This will help children, seniors, and any other guest from potentially falling in immediately upon entering the pool area through the barrier.
Pool covers serve multiple purposes. Covers help to stop or slow down evaporation, help the pool retain heat, keep out leaves, twigs, and yard debris, and save money when it comes to less pool maintenance, according to Energy.gov.
But one of the most important purposes of the cover is safety. The new law requires that pool owners utilize an approved safety pool cover. This means a manual or powered safety pool cover that meets all the performance standard of the American Society for Testing and Materials, according to WaterproofFL, a pool safety campaign founded by the state in 2010.
Because it is impossible to keep your eyes on the pool area at all times, alarms are a great safety measure to take if you’re a pool owner.
The law demands pool owners to install alarms that make audible and continuous sounds when a door or window that allows access to the pool area is opened. The alarm must be loud enough that it will be heard throughout the home and yard and quickly alert someone in case of an emergency.
A recent finding by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission discovered that nearly 300 children younger than 5 years old drown in pools and spas each year. That’s why access gates to any pool should be equipped with a locking device, experts say.
The gates should also open outward, away from the pool, and, most importantly, be self-closing or have a self-latching device. This will help close off access to the pool after a person has entered or left the pool area. The doors will prevent any children or frail person from entering and potentially falling into the water.
While the weather is hot outside, swimmers will look for some relief in their backyard pool. And despite the safety precautions homeowners must take under the new law, accidents could still happen. Visit our property lawsuits page to learn more about what you can do if you or a loved one has suffered from a property owner’s negligence, whether it involves a pool or some other feature.