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Fatal Drowning Occurs in Backyard Swimming Pool During a Party

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It was a crowded pool at a birthday party in a Villa Park home. It was a perfect day for a party – warm and sunny. There were plenty of kids in the pool and even more adults standing around the pool watching them. But not one of those kids or adults noticed 4-year-old Aurora Pruitt of Moreno Valley slip underwater and drown in the shallow end of the pool, according to an article in The Orange County Register.

The article states that there were as many as 15 children in the pool ranging in age from 3 to 16 years old. According to the report, five adults were watching the children. They made the horrible discovery at lunch time when all the children got out of the pool except for little Aurora. A parent, who saw her at the bottom of the shallow end of the pool, pulled her out and tried to resuscitate her, but didn’t succeed. Paramedics rushed her first to Chapman Medical Center and later to Children’s Hospital of Orange County in Orange, where she died just after 9 p.m. Tuesday.

According to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, 18 children under the age of 18 have drowned in Orange County since January and nine of those children who drowned were under 13 years of age.

These are truly alarming numbers for Orange County. Drowning is the leading cause of death for young children in Orange County and California where backyard pools are the norm rather than the exception. Pools are a great resource and a pool parties are a great activity for the summer. But they can also be a liability. If a child drowns in your backyard pool under your watch, you could be held liable.

In this case, it seems as if adults were watching the children in the pool, but the pool was just too crowded. Also remember, it takes but a few minutes for a child to silently slip underwater and become unconscious. These drownings or near-drownings, if they don’t result in death, could result in severe brain damage. Do not let this happen to your children or any child under your watch.

Here are some tips to organize a safe pool party from the American Red Cross’ Web site: http://www.redcross.org/services/hss/aquatics/FAQ.htm#Q7 • Make sure that parents or caretakers of all invited guests are aware that the party is a pool party.
• If possible, have a lifeguard on duty.
• If not hiring a lifeguard, identify or appoint responsible adults to supervise the pool when it is being used. These individuals must understand and accept responsibility for monitoring the pool and should be trained in CPR, first aid and water safety.
• Establish rules for safety such as prohibiting all dives into shallow water; walking – no running on the deck; not permitting glass in the pool area
• Do not serve alcoholic beverages to guests who are or will be participating in water activities.
• Maintain cleanliness of water. Water should be chemically treated and tested regularly.
• Check with the homeowner’s insurance company to determine the limits of coverage. Additional coverage for the event may be required.

If you have any questions or would like to contact me to find out about your legal options in a pool drowning or near-drowning case, call me, John Bisnar of Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys, for a free consultation. 800-259-6373.

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