Pool Drowning and Water Safety

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Drowning is one of the leading causes of injury and death to Canadian children. An estimated 54 children, age 14 and under, drown each year in Canada. Another 140 are hospitalized for near drowning, many suffering from brain injuries. Swimming pools are the site of nearly half of all of these drowning and near drowning incidents.

Safer fencing would protect more children from pool injuries. Key features include:

  • Four-sided fencing that completely encloses the swimming pool area to block access from the house;
  • Minimum height of 1.2 meters, (4 feet) to prevent children from climbing the fence;
  • Legislation that covers all pools with a depth of over 0.6 meters (2 feet);
  • A self-closing and self-latching gate to the pool area; and
  • Fences that inhibit climbing.

Pool tragedies can result in criminal charges or civil lawsuits. The owner in charge of the pool may be sued for any deaths or injuries that result from drowning or near drowning accidents. The owner must have taken the reasonable steps to ensure his or her pool is safe. The owners of public pools have additional responsibilities including lifeguards and proper signage.

Maia Bent is a partner at the Ontario law firm, Lerners LLP, who practices Plaintiff Personal Injury Litigation. Maia was selected by the Ontario Brain Injury Association as Professional of the Year in 2012. See her Professional Biography for more information about Maia and her work in the area of Personal Injury Litigation.