Summer Camps and Drowning Accidents

As summer approaches, many parents will be making plans for their children to attend residential summer camps or day camps. Since many of these camps will include swimming and similar water recreation activities, it is vital that summer camp staff are aware of a camper’s swimming ability. Although many camps exercise close control over their non-swimming campers’ access to swimming pools and open water such as lakes and streams, there are those tragic incidents where campers are the victims of drowning and near-drowning accidents.

In today’s post, the drowning accident lawyer at The Doan Law Firm will review the more common causes of summer camp drowning accidents. He will then offer suggestions as to how the parents of these victims can hold summer camps responsible for their role in their child’s drowning or near-drowning accident.

The Problem

Although most summer and day camps provide safe environments for their child campers, there are still too many preventable drowning and near-drowning accidents. The following incidents, which occurred within a week of each other last summer, will serve as examples.

  • June 24, 2019: A 5-year-old boy was flown to a hospital in Greenfield, MA after a near-drowning accident at Camp Lion Knoll in Leyden. An off-duty police officer who was working as a lifeguard at the camp performed CPR on the boy until an ambulance crew arrived. According to news reports, the arrival of the ambulance was delayed because camp staffers didn’t know the camp’s address. Fortunately, the child survived his accident and was released from the hospital a few days later.

  • June 29, 219: A 6-year-old girl died one day after being found floating in a swimming pool at Summerkids Daycamp in Altadena, CA. The victim’s parents stated that, although they had informed the camp that their daughter was developmentally delayed and a non-swimmer, the camp staff allowed her near the swimming pool without supervision.

What Are the Causes of Summer Camp Drowning Accidents?

Any accidental drowning or near-drowning at a summer camp is a tragedy because these accidents are, in practically all cases, preventable. Thus, when such accidents occur, it is often due to negligence on the part of the summer camp and its employees or volunteer staff. In our experience representing the families of drowning and near-drowning accident victims, at The Doan Law Firm we have found the following, either by themselves or in combination, are responsible for most drowning and near-drowning accidents.

Failure to confirm a camper’s swimming ability

It is the responsibility of every summer camp operator to verify a camper’s swimming skill. This must include having the camper demonstrate their ability to swim, without assistance, a certain distance or the ability to tread water for short periods of time. Merely accepting a camper’s or a parent’s opinion of their swimming ability without verifying those skills may be seen as negligence.

Inadequate water safety skills of employees and volunteers

Many summer camps rely on high school or college age students to supervise campers while campers are swimming in pools or in open water. At a minimum any employee, volunteer lifeguard, or water recreation supervisor should be certified by the American Red Cross or a similar organization as having completed both lifeguard/water rescue and first aid training, to include training in CPR.

Inadequate supervision while campers are swimming

It is well known that children tend to throw caution to the wind while at play. This also holds true when children are swimming or playing close to water’s edge. Many water safety organization recommend one lifeguard per 25 swimmer. An industry trade group, the American Lifeguard Association, recommends that two trained lifeguards be on duty at all times simply because that is the minimum number required to safely rescue a swimmer who may have suffered a neck injury in a diving accident.

Failure to have an emergency action plan

It is a sad fact that many summer camps do not have plans that specify procedures that are to be followed in the event of a drowning or near-drowning accident. Since it can be reasonably expected that these accidents could occur, if such a plan did not exist when a drowning or near-drowning accident happened it could be seen as negligence on the part of the camp operator.

Contacting a Summer Camp Drowning Accident Lawyer

Since there are many legal issues that could arise following a drowning or near-drowning accident, you will need the services of an experienced drowning accident lawyer who has a record of success in drowning accident lawsuits.

If your child was the victim of a summer camp drowning or near-drowning accident, we encourage you to contact the summer camp drowning accident lawyer at The Doan Law Firm, a personal injury law firm with offices located throughout the country, to arrange a free review of the facts in your child’s drowning accident case and a review of the legal options that may be available to you.

When you contact our firm to arrange a confidential review of the facts in your child’s summer camp drowning case, your case review and first consultation with our summer camp drowning lawyer is always free of any charges and does not obligate you to hire our firm to represent you in court. Should you decide that a lawsuit is in order, and that you would like for us to act as your legal counsel, we are always willing to assume full responsibility for all aspects of preparing your case for trial in exchange for a percentage of the final settlement that we are prepared to win for you.