Public Pool Safety Laws
In California, drowning is one of the leading causes of death for children under the age of four. Even for older children and teenagers aged four through 14, swimming can be extremely dangerous, as fatal drowning is the second-leading cause of death for this age group, behind only automobile crashes. While most drownings and other swimming accidents occur in home swimming pools, a number of children are still injured in and around public pools every year. Responding to the inherent dangers of swimming pools, California has instituted a series of regulations that require the operators of all public pools in the state to adhere to certain safety precautions.
It is important to understand what qualifies as a public swimming pool because the regulations only cover pools meeting specific criteria. A public swimming pool means a structure, whether in-ground or above ground, inside or outside, that is used for recreational swimming. This includes swimming pools, hot tubs, spas, and non-movable wading pools that are:
- Open to the public, whether or not an entrance fee is charged;
- Open only to specific individuals, namely the guests of a particular organization, including residents of apartment buildings, multi-family residential areas, and hotel guests; or
- Located on the premises of a public or private school or gym.
If your swimming accident occurred in a pool that does not fall within this definition, then you may still be able to recover damages if the operators were negligent or the pool was privately owned.
Necessary Safety Equipment
Prior to approval from a state health inspector, all public pools must be equipped with anti-entrapment devices. These can include:
- Safety vacuum release systems;
- Vent systems that limit suction;
- Gravity drainage systems; and
- Automatic pump shut-off systems.
San Jose Regulations
The city of San Jose also has its own set of regulations regarding safety requirements for public pools. According to the city’s municipal code, all outdoor swimming pools and spas must be completely enclosed by a fence or wall. The enclosure must be:
- At least five feet tall and four feet from the edge of the pool; and
- Built so that no gaps that would allow the passage of a sphere with a four-inch diameter.
If the fence has a gate, it must have a self-closing and self-latching device and must be at least three and one-half feet above ground level.
If you or a loved one have been injured as a result of a swimming accident that occurred in a public pool, you should discuss your case with a lawyer as you may be able to receive compensation from the responsible party to help cover the cost of your injuries. Please contact the caring San Jose personal injury attorneys at Corsiglia McMahon & Allard, L.L.P. for a free consultation.