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When Summer Fun Turns Deadly


A story all too common and all too tragic unfolded the weekend of June 9-10th, but because it involved U.S. Olympic great Bode Miller, it became national news. Miller’s 19-month-old daughter Emeline Grier, fell into a neighbor’s swimming pool during a party and drowned.

Drownings are the leading cause of injury death for children ages 1-14 according to the Centers for Disease Control; children ages 1-4 are at highest risk. According to StopDrowningNow, a nonprofit foundation that advocates for pool safety, 70% of preschoolers who drowned were in the care of one or both parents and 75% were out of sight for fewer than 5 minutes.

From Memorial Day through Labor Day 2017, at least 163 children younger than age 15 fatally drowned in swimming pools or spas. Of the 163 reports, 112 of the victims -- nearly 70 percent -- were children younger than age five.


The Pool Safely campaign, a national public education campaign run by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), provides information on simple steps that parents, caregivers, and pool owners should take to ensure that children and adults stay safer in and around pools and spas:

• Install a four-sided fence with a self-closing, self-latching gate around all pools and spas.

• Designate an adult Water Watcher to supervise children at all times around the water.

• Learn how to swim and teach your child how to swim.

• Learn how to perform CPR on children and adults.

• Teach children to stay away from pool drains, pipes and other openings to avoid entrapments.

• Ensure any pool or spa you use has drain covers that comply with federal safety standards. If you do not know, ask your pool service provider about safer drain covers.


Georgia’s Department of Public Health oversees the regulation of swimming pools, spas and recreational water parks. Rules and regulations pertaining to these are found in Georgia Code Chapter 511-3-5.

Georgia law requires swimming pools to be completely fenced in, and specifies the way in which the enclosure must be accomplished. For example:

Homeowners are allowed to use their house as one side of the fence. If using the house as part of the fence, however, homeowners are required to install an alarm on the door leading to the pool from the inside of the home. Any other gates or pool entryways must be mounted so that they open out, or away from the pool. Gates are not allowed to push open toward the pool from the outside of the fence; and

Georgia law requires pool fences to be at least 4 feet tall and to begin no higher than 4 inches above the ground. If the pool fence contains vertical slats, they must be less than 4 inches apart so that small children cannot squeeze through them. Gates in swimming pool fences must be self-closing and latching, and latches must be installed at the proper place.

The above laws state the minimum guidelines; counties and municipalities can enact more stringent ordinances if they so desire.


What is often left out of the discussion regarding pool safety is the huge number of swimming pool, spa and recreational water park accidents every year that are not fatal but that result in life-altering injuries. For every child that drowns, at least 5 more children are taken to the ER with injuries: drain-entrapment accidents due to faulty drain covers; broken or negligently-maintained pool equipment such as ladders, diving boards, and dangerous water slides; and poor pool design can cause accidents resulting in brain damage and spinal cord injuries. Such catastrophic injuries often require lifelong care, necessitating hundreds of thousands—sometimes millions—of dollars.


Whether you are pursuing justice for a loved one who has drowned due to the negligence of a pool owner or operator, or you are pursuing a secure financial future for a loved one injured in a pool accident, contact Dave Thomas at The Thomas Law Firm for a free evaluation of your legal rights.

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Thomas Law Firm
Located at 945 East Paces Ferry Road, Resurgens Plaza, GA 30326.

Phone: (678) 264-8348.
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