April 10th, 2016 is a day that many residents of Ft. Oglethorpe, GA are unlikely to forget. It is the day that two year old Noah Reyna drowned in an apartment pool while his parents slept nearby.

The frantic 911 call hit the papers soon after with the caller stating, “Please, can you get someone out here to the Oglethorpe Ridge Apartments right now? There’s a toddler in a pool, and we think he might have drowned.” (1)

Shortly thereafter, the distressed caller exclaimed that the baby had indeed drowned.  The city of Ft. Oglethorpe subsequently charged the parents with second degree murder.  (1)

Detective John Lanham with the Ft. Oglethorpe police department stated that the toddler’s death could have been prevented.

“At two years old, you don’t have the mindset to really know right from wrong, just that you want to play in the water.”

Cases such as this beg the question of what steps people should take to assure that their children or the children of others are safe around pool areas. 

Bob McLaughlin of Chattanooga Pool and Patio, Inc. in East Ridge, TN states that in the state of Tennessee, all pool builders are required to install a swimming pool alarm on in-ground swimming pools, newly installed. (2) These are devices that sit on the pool deck and detect intruders through a battery powered horn. (3) Therefore, if a child or animal falls into the water, the alarm will sound, alerting parents or other people in the vicinity of detected motion in the water.

McLaughlin also indicated that Tennessee State Law requires that swimming pools have a fence around them with a minimum of 4’ tall and no spaces more than 6” apart, with self latching and self locking gates.  He also stated that it is important during the off season to have covers on empty pools, in order to prevent any accidents.  

Spending time by the pool is meant to be a joyous, leisurely activity for families as well as a source of exercise and therapy for others .

If you are thinking about getting a pool for you or your family, please reach out to Bob McLaughlin at Chattanooga Pool and Patio, Inc. in East Ridge, TN for further details on how to keep you and your children safe around the pool and to make it an asset rather than a liability.

Sources:

  1. https://newschannel9.com/news/local/911-tapes-shows-panic-when-2-year-old-drowns-in-a-ft-oglethorpe-pool
  2. Interview with Natalie, 10/21/20 
  3. http://www.poolguard.com/inground.asp
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