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Girl's near-drowning at Queens' pool likely caused by modified venting system

For children and adults alike, swimming pools can provide hours of fun and exercise. Near-drowning accidents suffered in swimming pools also, however, send nearly 5,000 people each year to the emergency room. In a matter of minutes, a child can suffered permanent brain damage or drown and, while in or near a swimming pool, parents are advised to always ensure that they are within arm’s reach of a child and supervising his or her every move.

In addition to parental or adult supervision, swimming pool owners and operators must also ensure that they follow certain safety rules and codes with regard to how a pool is designed, maintained and enclosed. For example, to reduce the risk of entrapment, pool owners must ensure that they follow certain safety guidelines with regard to the design and maintenance of pool drains and suction outlets.

The recent near-drowning of a six-year-old girl at the 100,000 square-foot Spa Castle in Queens serves as a reminder to parents of just how dangerous a day at the pool can become. According to an article in Crain's New York Business, the young girl became trapped in an underwater pool vent and was turning blue by the time she was pulled from the water by another spa guest.

The girl was transported to a nearby hospital and is expected to survive, however, the full extent of her injuries--including whether or not she may have suffered brain damage, is not yet known.

The spa facility was temporarily shut down following the accident after an investigation by the city's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene discovered several health and safety violations including that the "suction from the pool vents was excessive" and had been "modified without approval." Additionally, officials report that the facility lacked an adequate safety plan.

During the past three years, the spa facility has also been cited for "at least 40 Health Department violations" and, in 2014, was the site of the drowning death of an 84-year-old man.

Source: Crain's Business New York, "Popular Spa Castle in Queens indefinitely shutters following near-drowning incident," Peter D'Amato, March 1, 2016

New York State Department of State Division of Code Enforcement & Administration, "Requirements for Swimming Pool and Spa Alarms," March 3, 2016

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