While we are fortunate in Florida to be able to swim year-round, getting out on the water is a great way to cool off during the hot summer months. While we all know that being on the water carries certain risks, it’s always a good idea to revisit some things you can do to keep yourself and your loved ones safe. And if you or someone you love has been injured in a water-related accident, you may want to consider talking to a personal injury lawyer about your options. 

Water Safety for Children

Of course, parents should keep a close eye on their children any time they are at the water, whether it is a swimming pool, beach, or water park. Parents should make sure any children who cannot swim have Coast-Guard approved flotation devices and wear them properly. Regardless of their ability to swim or floatation devices, all children should be appropriately supervised when they are in or near the water. Most parents do this instinctively. 

Problems arise, however, when someone else is in charge of our children. Many children will attend summer camps that may involve day trips to the beach, a water park, or a swimming pool. Children may participate in community swim leagues. To ensure your child’s safety, you should inquire as to the following: 

  • Whether there is adequate staff (camp counselors, lifeguards, and so on) to supervise the children for the duration of their visit
  • Whether the park, pool, or waterpark has an adequate number of lifeguards with the appropriate training
  • Whether the camp staff or team coaches have first-aid or lifeguard training
  • What lifesaving equipment is on-site
  • Whether the people responsible for your child have the correct emergency contact information

If your child is going to the beach as part of a summer camp, for example, you should make sure that it is at a beach with lifeguards and that there will be enough camp staff to ensure that there is adequate supervision.

Florida’s Gulf Coast Beaches Can Be Dangerous

While our beaches may not be as dangerous as other beaches in the world, drowning is always a possibility wherever you go. For some reason, people underestimate the risk of drowning in the Gulf, perhaps because the surf is not as strong as it is on the Atlantic or Pacific coasts. Nonetheless, there are riptides that can exhaust swimmers. There are other natural features such as sudden drop-offs that can be dangerous for novice swimmers. People should avoid deep water if they aren’t strong swimmers and swim only where there are lifeguards stationed. 

Another potential risk is being injured by wildlife. Shark attacks are comparatively rare, but do happen. Jellyfish stings can make it difficult to swim and lead to drowning. People should be aware of the potential risks before they enter the water and stay alert in order to avoid injury. 

Warnings are often posted at beaches concerning tides or wildlife hazards. Those warnings are for your safety and should be heeded at all times. 

Swimming Pools and Waterparks

Swimming pools and waterparks may appear to be more safe than the beach, but they also present numerous hazards. Drowning is always a risk, even at relatively small pools. Pools and waterparks are likely subject to local ordinances that have specific safety mandates that dictate the following: 

  • The number of lifeguards that must be on duty at all times
  • What safety equipment must be kept on-site, such as automated external defibrillators (AEDs)  
  • Secured entries and fencing

Slip and fall accidents are also common at pools and water parks which can result in concussions and other serious injuries. As a result, pool and park managers should ensure that there are rules in place to ensure the safety of patrons wherever they may be on the property. Patrons should alert staff to potentially hazardous conditions and follow whatever rules are in place. In addition, parents should supervise their children to ensure that they are complying with all rules and not rely upon pool or park staff to keep them safe. 

Private residential pools, of course, are not required to have lifeguards on duty or comply with other regulations. They may be required to have adequate fencing and secured gates to keep out any unsupervised children. If your children are visiting someone’s home with a pool, it is a good idea to discuss with the homeowner what supervision will be provided to guard against any potential injuries. 

The Hazards of Boating

Whether it is a lake, a river, or the Gulf, boating is a very popular option for enjoying the water year-round. Unfortunately, boating accidents are more common than people realize and can result in catastrophic injuries and even death. Here are some suggestions for staying safe while boating: 

  • Everyone on the boat should wear a life jacket at all times, not just children. 
  • The captain should not drive the boat while drinking or under the influence of drugs or alcohol. 
  • The captain should drive the boat safely and follow all regulations and navigation rules.
  • Check the weather conditions before departure. Should you encounter unexpected inclement weather, you should return to the dock as quickly as possible.  

Even if you’re a strong swimmer, remember that you may need to help others while injured and disoriented in the event of an accident. As a result, you should encourage everyone to be safe even if you are not worried for your own personal safety. 

Injured in a Water-Related Accident? Contact Powell, Powell & Powell Today 

If you or someone you love has been injured in a boating accident or at the pool or the beach, you may be entitled to compensation. Powell, Powell & Powell have been helping injured people in Crestview, Niceville, Destin, Fort Walton, and Defuniak Springs rebuild their lives for over 50 years. We can review your case and determine whether someone should be held accountable as a result of their negligence. Contact us today at 850-682-2757 to schedule a free consultation.