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Making A Splash In Pool Safety
An acquired brain injury is defined as: Damage to the brain, which occurs after birth and is not related to a congenital or a degenerative disease.
People often associate acquired brain injuries (ABIs) with motor vehicle accidents, sports injuries, and slips and falls. This association is not wrong, as many ABIs are caused by those activities. However, in Canada, an additional and often overlooked cause of brain injuries is swimming pool accidents.
As summer begins and swimming pools open, many of us are eager to spend our free time poolside. However, the risk for injury, specifically to the head or brain, is significant around a swimming pool. Accidents can happen quickly and can have devastating consequences. Severe brain injuries can result in permanent, life-altering impairments and even death.
Among Canadian children and youth aged 5 to 19, sports and recreational activities, such as swimming, are leading causes of traumatic brain injury-related hospital visits. A traumatic brain injury is a specific kind of ABI which occurs when the brain experiences a sudden trauma.
Around a swimming pool, a traumatic brain injury can be caused by:
- Diving into shallow water
- Slipping or tripping on the pool deck
- Colliding with another swimmer or pool wall
In addition to the forgoing, an ABI can also be caused by depriving the brain of oxygen for too long. This kind of brain injury, called an anoxic brain injury, occurs frequently in near-drowning situations.
Though many swimming pool accidents are just that, accidents, the majority of them are preventable. Swimming pool owners have a legal responsibility to ensure their pool and surrounding area is safe. Criminal charges and civil lawsuits can result if the appropriate precautions are not taken.
To ensure the safety of yourself and others around your swimming pool:
- Install a fence around the pool
- Remove any diving boards
- Implement “pool safety rules” such as no running/pushing around the pool
- Appropriately supervise children
- Have rescue and first aid equipment close to the pool.
While a day of fun in the sun poolside should be nothing but enjoyable, swimming pool accidents are a very real summer danger and can have devastating consequences. Please stay safe while staying cool this summer.
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 Brain Injury Canada, About Brain Injury (Canada 2021) https://braininjurycanada.ca/en/survivor/traumatic-brain-injury/about-brain-injury
 Government of Ontario, Injury in review, 2020 edition: Spotlight on traumatic brain injuries across the life course (Ontario, 2020) https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/injury-prevention/canadian-hospitals-injury-reporting-prevention-program/injury-reports/2020-spotlight-traumatic-brain-injuries-life-course.html