The recent drowning death of a five-year-old boy swept away by the Androscoggin River highlights summer water risks in Maine.
The boy fell in the river while playing at Bonney Park near Auburn. His older brother jumped in after him and was later pulled from the water by rescuers before being LifeFlighted to Maine Medical Center in Portland. A sister and the father also jumped in to try and save him and were lucky to make it back out of the rushing river, according to authorities.
Rivers and their spring tributaries can be especially dangerous during spring runoff. Our Maine personal injury lawyers urge you to talk to your children about the importance of water safety because Memorial Day signals the start of warm summer months and the most dangerous time of the year for drowning deaths.
Summer Water Safety in Maine
The Maine Department of Health and Human Services reports about 30 people drown in Maine each summer. Open bodies of water pose the greatest risk to older children, perhaps because teens are beginning to experience new freedoms that come with age and are prone to underestimating the risks. However, it’s swimming pools that pose the greatest danger to younger children.
Drowning is the leading cause of preventable deaths involving children under the age of four. Small pools, buckets, and even toilets can pose a risk. Nationwide, two children a day will drown this summer.
Drowning Deaths and Maine Liability Claims
In a significant number of these tragedies, negligence leads to drowning.
- Commercial pools and attractions: These may be held responsible under premises liability or general negligence law when a dangerous condition results in a serious or fatal injury. These would include water parks, kayaking companies, and municipal and private swimming facilities. In many cases, guests are asked to assume the risks by signing a liability waiver. Such waivers may or may not be enforceable, depending on the facts of a case.
- Premises Liability: Drowning in the pool of a neighbor or friend may result in a premises liability claim against negligent homeowners and their insurance carriers. Maine Revised Statutes Title 22 §1632 governs enclosure requirements and a property owner’s safety obligations when it comes to swimming pools.
- Negligent Supervision: Specific rules govern municipal pools and pools at camp and other child-care facilities.
- Product liability: These types of cases typically involve dangerous child products (such as inflatable pools or safety vests), or dangerous or defective spa equipment or pool drains.
Drowning Prevention for Maine Children
While drowning among adults does occur — particularly when alcohol is involved — children are far and away the most likely victims to be injured or killed in the water. Beginning Memorial Day with swimming basics and water safety is a great way to kick off the warm summer months.
The Maine Department of Health and Human Services has issued water-safety rules for child-care settings. Safety tips, educational courses, and programing materials are offered for parents and professional caregivers alike.
Maine Healthy Beaches offers a wealth of advice for hitting the shore safely, as well as boating safety basics.
Having a plan and respecting the water will go a long way toward keeping your family and you safe this summer.
Contact Peter Thompson & Associates at 1-800-804-2004 for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights following a drowning accident.
Kayaking instructor finds body of boy swept away by Androscoggin 3 weeks ago, May 15, 2018, Press-Herald.
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Man injured in Portland Pub Porch Incident, April 3, 2018, Peter Thompson & Associates