Water safety is in focus as we head into summer.
COVID has increased the risks on a number of fronts: The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission reports the number of boating fatalities increased 20 percent in 2020, while the media has reported on a number of drowning tragedies that have occurred in backyard pools.
Statewide, more than 800 serious boating accidents were reported.
There were three fatal incidents involving boats for people in Lee County. In Fort Myers Beach, a 45-year-old man drowned after falling off his boat in November. There were also boating accident fatalities reported in the waters off of Bokeelia and Fort Myers in 2020.
Lee County ranked fifth in the state in the number of boating accidents last year with 63. Collision with another vessel and collision with a fixed object were the most common causes. Drowning continued to be the top contributing factor in boating deaths.
More boats on the water – and more new boaters – continue to be cited as reasons for the increase. Our injury lawyers in Southwest Florida urge you to respect the risks on the water: File a float plan, monitor the fast-changing weather, wear an appropriate life vest, and take advantage of boater safety courses on a regular basis.
Water Risks Abound in Southwest Florida
Being on a boat is only part of the picture when it comes to water risks in Southwest Florida. Equally dangerous are the backyard swimming pools that dot the landscape. Florida’s 1 million swimming pools and year-around swimming weather create more risks than anywhere in the nation.
More than 50 children under the age of 5 drown in Florida swimming pools each year, according to research data maintained by Florida State University. Over 60% of these drowning deaths occur in residential swimming pools every year. Lapses in adult supervision and lack of pool safety features as mandated in the Preston de Ibern/McKenzie Merriam Residential Swimming Pool Safety Act (Florida Statutes, Chapter 515) have been identified as contributing to these needless and preventable tragedies.
Our injury lawyers in Cape Coral and Fort Myers know COVID restrictions have put more kids at home, while closed schools have created more temporary babysitting arrangements. Combined with many parents working from home, supervision and a proper pool-safety plan must never be neglected.
Training children on how and when to use a pool, as well as enrolling kids in swimming lessons, can go a long way toward reducing the risks. Most residential pools are required to have gates, door alarms and other safety features designed to keep unsupervised children from gaining access.
When a drowning or near-drowning does occur, an experienced personal injury law firm can best protect a victim’s rights. In most cases, this will entail making a claim for damages against a homeowner’s insurance policy.
Commercial pool operators – including hotels, resorts and waterparks – are held to a higher standard of care. When an accident occurs at such a facility, timely consultation with an experienced law firm can best protect your rights.
It is easy to take the risks for granted. Longtime Southwest Florida residents are used to the pools, canals, and retention ponds across our landscape. Rededicating to respecting the risks can help keep all of us safe through the long, hot, summer ahead.
If you or a loved one is injured, call Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured, at 1-800-646-1210.