No municipality holds public pools and private/residential pools to the same compliance standards, which is a good thing. Holding pools in the public and residential domains to the same requirements would expose all pools to rules that lacked contextual validity. But one element of compliance that is ethically sensible for all pools is the provision of first aid at the pool site.
At public pools, first aid such as CPR and basic treatment of limb injuries are required skills for lifeguards, who certify in CPR and first aid to gain their official title. Residential pools lack the same requirements. But we contend that CPR skills and pool first aid are an ethical necessity for all pool owners.
As a pool owner, certifying can benefit more than pool occupants; it can be advantageous for homeowners, too. Let’s look at three compelling reasons to make it your “responsibility” to have CPR and first aid training under your belt if you own a residential pool.
1. Private Pools are not Inherently Less Injury-Related
Because public pools consistently host more guests than private pools, it’s not surprising to find that they experience a higher incidence of injuries that require CPR and other crucial types of aid. However, when the statistics are interpreted on a per capita basis, neither is it surprising to discover that, in any given location, a private pool is a stage for the same types of injuries, but on a scale that’s in keeping with the lower number of people who use the pool.
Misperception Due to Statistical Incidence
Overall, incidents that necessitate aid at public pools are largely the same as events that require it in private settings, including: limited swimming ability that leads to loss of consciousness due to submersion, slip and fall injuries due to running on slick surfaces near the pool, injuries due to improper use of pool implements (e.g., diving boards and ladders), and serious health events indirectly related to pool use, such as heart attacks and seizures.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), non-boat related drownings are the fifth-leading cause of unintentional death in the nation — a statistic that doesn’t delineate between unintentional drownings at public pools and private ones.
Misperception Due to Monitoring Capability
Owners of private pools can often monitor the small number of swimmers in their pools more easily than lifeguards can oversee the far greater number of swimmers who routinely crowd public pools. But it’s important to note that the actions of adult swimmers — not the degree to which a pool owner monitors the pool — is the main variable for injuries requiring pool first aid.
When proper monitoring fails to prevent injuries, responsive first aid may be all that prevents some injuries from becoming serious. As the homeowner, you could be held liable for a pool-related injury that occurs on your property. So it’s sensible to provide first aid and water safety measures to help deter injuries that require it, such as a residential pool safety barrier from A Safe Pool.
2. You Could be Held Liable for Injuries at Your Pool
Residential pool owners should implement a pool safety barrier for two reasons: to protect children and other individuals at high risk of drowning; and to protect themselves from legal liability for injuries to others who may use the pool without permission or use it carelessly. For the same reasons, it is advisable to take responsibility for offering pool first aid to injury victims.
With that said, you may be wondering: if a stranger trespasses into my pool and gets injured, should I really to rush to his aid, when his motives are uncertain, and he entered illegally to begin with?
Based on information freely offered on websites for law firms that defend homeowners against pool liability claims, the answer is no. When an injured trespasser is an adult, it is usually he — and not the pool owner — who faces an uphill legal battle, when he files a liability lawsuit.
But the same law firms often claim that, if the injured trespasser happens to be a child, the pool owner is almost certain to be held liable for the injury. Consequently, treating a child with pool first aid that saves his life could mean the difference between facing a wrongful death suit and facing a personal injury suit. Of the two, the latter generally requires a homeowner’s pool liability insurance to pay an appreciably lower settlement amount to the plaintiff.
Sometimes, first aid and the water safety it helps increase — a post-factum safety that mitigates the effects of an injury instead of preventing it — benefits both the homeowner and the injured. If you hold yourself responsible for personal finances, it’s sensible to assume responsibility for providing pool first aid to a child, whose injury results from trespassing.
However, as you would do if an adult trespassed, promptly notify police by calling 911. This won’t get the child into big trouble, but it will help invalidate any claim that you mistreated a minor. Because this accusation could be used to add an “egregious” legality to the child’s injury, which enriches the settlement, plaintiffs of poor character have been known to use it.
3. Injuries Can Become Fatal Before Paramedics Arrive
When a pool injury requires CPR, someone usually dials 911. While this should always be done, pool first aid that a homeowner provides, while paramedics are en route, could mean the difference between the injured recovering in the hospital and perishing at the pool site.
When a person has a life-threatening injury, “seconds count”, says the CDC. The Response Institute and CPR Consultants — an organization offering CPR training and consultation — elaborates on how those “seconds” are best spent: “Immediate, hands-on CPR performed by bystanders, until EMTs or other emergency personnel arrive to the scene, can make all the difference when it comes to preventing an unintentional death by drowning.”
The Simplicity of CPR as a Success Factor
When someone is pulled from a pool, just short of drowning, they are unconscious due to oxygen deprivation. This creates two critical deficits: a lack of conscious will to survive, and a lack of autonomic function to survive while unconscious. Being a property owner and defacto host of pool activities, the pool owner is responsible for providing aid, in the form of CPR.
If the situation has a silver lining, besides the lifesaving result CPR can provide, it lies within the CPR process itself. A highly finite process of repetition, which humans can perform with machine-like accuracy and efficiency, it’s simplicity is ideally suited to the main challenges posed by the urgency of the situation in which it’s performed: a narrow timeframe for success, no tolerance for error, and a potential deficit in focus that stress from these challenges can create.
Yet, despite the challenges, the success rate of CPR for “drowning survival” victims appears to be high. Some water safety consultancies report success rates of over 90% for victims, who received CPR from bystanders shortly after removal from the water.
First aid and water safety should be priorities for every pool owner, and to consider them your “responsibility” is the best way to provide them as responsively and thoroughly as possible. Because the ultimate goal of pool first aid is preventing fatalities, it’s also important to take proactive measures that deter injuries, in addition to taking reactive measures that help prevent injuries from becoming fatal.
One of the most effective proactive measures against unintentional drowning — especially for small children — is implementing a pool safety barrier from A Safe Pool. Take a look at our gallery of safety barriers, and consider which product would look and work the best at your pool site. Then, contact us to schedule a free estimate.
A Safe Pool knows that pool safety is a weighty responsibility for any homeowner to bear. That’s why we’re here to share it with you by providing solutions that reduce drowning risk.