Negligent supervision or failure of swimming pool owners, operators, and manufacturers to exercise reasonable care may lead to catastrophic accidents involving both children and adults. With the enactment of the Residential Swimming Pool Safety Act in 2000, the Florida legislature recognized that in this state drowning is the leading cause of death of young children and a significant cause of death for medically frail elderly persons. The act, which placed a barrier requirement that pools built after Oct. 1, 2000 must have a fence or barrier at least 4 feet high on the outside, also acknowledged that constant supervision is key to prevention of drowning. The statistics are alarming. A toddler can drown in two inches of water. Within three minutes of submersion “ about the time it may take to step away and grab a bottle of water “ most people will become unconscious. Rescue must occur within five minutes to reduce the risk of brain damage or death.
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That brings me to a story that I’ve been following here locally. Our hearts go out to the family of the 2 year old boy who recently died after falling in the pool at his unlicensed day-care. According to Jacksonville.com the operator of the daycare was booked Tuesday on charges of aggravated manslaughter of a child by culpable negligence and operating a day care without a license.
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According to a police report, the operator told police she had taken all of the children swimming for about an hour and then took them all inside the home. She said she closed but did not lock the gate that leads to the pool from the back porch. Subsequently, she closed and locked the sliding glass door that leads to the back porch but failed to secure the lock at the top of the door, which is out of the reach of children. The operator was tending to other children when the 2 year old left her view, and about 10 to 15 minutes passed. At this point, she looked around the house for the deceased when she saw the sliding glass door was ajar, about 6-7 inches. Buchanan said she walked onto the back porch and saw the boy floating in the pool. She said she pulled him out and tried to resuscitate him until rescuers arrived.
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The next day, according to the report, investigators inspected the pool area and saw a pool alarm, which sounds outside and inside the home when the surface of the water is disturbed. According to the police report, the operator admitted she was negligent by not locking the top lock of the sliding glass door because the 3- and 4-year-old children know how to unlock and open the door. Police said she also admitted to not locking the gate leading to the pool and not activating the pool alarm. She also then told investigators the pool alarm had not been activated since May 4, according to the police report.