Tuesday, September 13, 2005
Carmel on the Case: Pool Problems
So many of us enjoy swimming in South Florida. But if you have an inflatable pool or a kiddie pool, beware. In this week's Carmel on the Case, Investigative Reporter Carmel Cafiero says temporary pools - even very shallow ones - can be deadly.
This home video is treasured by the family of James Black of Lakeland. It preserves the memory of his short life. James was just three years old when he drowned in a backyard pool just like this one.
Drowning Victim's Mother April Black: "I usually leave it filled, but he hated the pool, so I never thought he would get in the pool."
April - James' mother - says her son - nicknamed Boo - was out of her sight for only seconds.
When she couldn't find him - she thought about the pool which was filled with very murky water.
April Black: "I looked in the pool and couldn't find him nowhere. So I got out and went and checked the neighborhood and then I called 911. And then I jumped back in and that's when I found him."
Boo died that day. For his parents there is little comfort in the fact that drowning is the number one cause of death and injury for toddlers.
April Black: "I thought we were going to have a whole lot of fun swimming in the pool."
Unlike in ground pools - where barriers are required to keep little one from falling into harm...Most inflatable and above ground pools are not regulated at all.
Toby Cline from Miami Dade Code Enforcement: "There is a trend that more and more of them are now being purchased by homeowners."
Toby Cline is a Miami Dade County Code Enforcement Officer. He says above ground pools aren't required to have fences around them, unless they have permanent access -- like a platform or a ladder that can't be removed.
Toby Cline: "If there's a temporary ladder or step that is used and can be taken away, then the pool itself will be considered a barrier because it won't be accessible at that time."
That description fits this pool. The same size pool Boo Black drowned in. We found it within steps of the sidewalk in Northwest Dade. It was full of water and there wasn't a soul in sight. You don't need to be an expert to know this - is an accident waiting to happen.
Brian Hannigan from Miami Children's Hospital: "They're easy to use, but they're difficult to fill so people will leave water in them and that's a constant danger."
Brian Hannigan is a Preventative Medicine Nurse at Miami Children's Hospital.
Brian Hannigan: "Toddlers have been know to drown in cleaning buckets because they fall in and panic and can't get themselves out."
Investigative Reporter Carmel Cafiero: "When we put our children in backayrd pools…the whole idea is that they have a lot of fun. But the fact is a pool - even as shallow as this one - can turn deadly if children are not watched constantly."
In fact all it takes is one inch of water to take a toddler's life. Three year old Alyssa Deprey drowned in about that much water.
Drowning Victim's Mother: "Stacy Deprey: "I never ever obviously would have thought that kiddie pool would be a danger."
Alyssa's mom Stacy says her older daughter, five year old Kaila, told her that Alyssa was "sleeping" in the pool.
Stacy Deprey: "I just screamed and I screamed and I screamed. It just wasn't - really it was slow motion."
Stacy Deprey: "But just finding your child dead, no parent should have to do that."
Alyssa died because a neighbor's kiddie pool had not been completely emptied.
Stacy Deprey: "It's not enough to say you know I don't want to fill the pool up again after lunch…you know. Do it. Do it. Because this could be somebody's else's child and not just yours."
No matter if it's a large above ground pool - an inflatable - or even a kiddie pool - to be safe they should be fenced or be empty. Then the only "pool" crisis might be --- an unexpected dousing.
If you have a story for Carmel:
Call her in Dade at 305-627-CLUE
Or in Broward at 954-921-CLUE