During the hot and humid Florida summers, swimming pools at retirement communities are a popular place for residents to cool off and get some exercise. However, these pools can also pose serious slip-and-fall hazards that can lead to injurious and even fatal accidents.
Recognizing risk factors
Several factors make slip-and-fall incidents more likely at retirement community pools. First, the surfaces around pools tend to be wet and slippery, especially the tiles and concrete around the pool deck. Add to this impaired mobility and balance issues common in older adults, and the risk of falling increases dramatically.
Poor pool maintenance is another critical factor, as algae buildup and damaged tiles or coping can create tripping hazards. Finally, pools may not have lifeguards, so there may be no one present to assist if a fall does occur.
Recognizing design and maintenance negligence
Pool decks should have slip-resistant surfaces and abundant drainage to reduce standing water. Frequent cleaning keeps surfaces free of algae and debris. Damaged tiles, coping and decking should be promptly repaired. In addition, grab bars, railings and slip-resistant steps/ladders can ease entry and exit to the pool. Finally, property management should maintain proper chemical levels in the pool to keep the water sanitary and prevent algae growth.
Encouraging safety education
Retirement communities need to emphasize ongoing safety education for residents. Water exercise classes can include fall prevention tips. Flyers can remind residents to use grab bars, dry off completely and wear appropriate footwear.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 8,000 non-fatal drownings occur every year. Many of these incidents likely involved slip-and-fall accidents preceding drowning. With proper awareness and vigilance, retirement communities can reduce risks and help ensure swimming pools remain a place of fun and relaxation for their residents.