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Portland Pool and Drowning Accidents

People in Portland love to swim. For some, it is a form of exercise and a way to stay fit and toned. For other people, swimming is simply a fun form of recreation, a way to cool off and emerge refreshed. Regardless of your motivation, Portland is fortunate to have an impressive arrangement of public pools, offering swimming lessons, competitive swim teams, fitness classes, and water recreation programs for adults and children.

Throughout the city, there is also an abundance of natural swimming areas, as well as fountains and wading pools. Despite the numerous benefits to swimming, there are dangers and risks to be aware of. Swimming accidents and drownings result in untold grief for thousands of families each year, and injuries related to swimming pool and drowning accidents can be severe and life-altering.

How do these accidents happen, and who is responsible? Here is what you need to know to ensure you and your family are protected.

Public Swimming Pool Safety and Regulations  

The Public Health Division of the Oregon Health Authority oversees the regulation of public pools and spas throughout the state. To protect the safety and welfare of the general public, the Oregon Administrative Rules require that lifeguards be provided at all Portland public pools, and that certain procedures for handling public pool emergencies be in place, including:

  • All pools are required to have an automatic external defibrillator and oxygen equipment;
  • The pool operator must be present at all times and have a telephone accessible during hours of operation;
  • The pool must have lifesaving equipment, such as a pool hook, buoy, and first aid kit, easily accessible at all times;
  • A lifeline separating the shallow end of the pool from the deeper end; and
  • An emergency plan must be in place at all times, detailing procedure for drownings, fires, severe weather, chemical releases, and equipment breakdowns.

Pool owners, operators, and inspectors may be held legally liable for injuries or drownings if these safety regulations aren’t met. While most Portland fountains and wading pools are not covered under the regulations, the owner of the property may still be liable for injuries caused by obvious public health hazards and dangers.

Private Pool Owners

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 10 people a day are victims of drowning, and of this number, roughly one in five is a child aged 14 or younger. Some of the main contributing factors in most drownings are lack of swimming ability, lack of supervision, and lack of pool barriers.

The City of Portland Land Development Service (LDS) issues permits and conducts inspections of building projects by private owners. Under the Oregon Specialty Residential Code, homeowners are required to install a barrier around any swimming pool deeper than 24 inches on their property. Legal requirements for pool barriers dictate that they must be at least four feet in height, and have a self-closing, self-latching gate.

According to Oregon accidental drowning lawyers, simply installing a barrier does not release a homeowner from liability in case of drowning accidents, and the LDS advises owners to consult with their home insurance carrier regarding liability prior to having a pool installed. While water features such as pond and fountains are not regulated under the building code, homeowners would still be liable for any accidents that occur as a result of these water features.

Contact an Oregon Accidental Drowning Lawyer

If you have been injured in a swimming accident, or have lost a loved one due to drowning, contact an experienced Oregon accidental drowning lawyer right away. At the Johnston Law Firm, we will provide the legal experience you need, and the compassionate client service that is so important at a time like this. Get the legal compensation you deserve, and hold responsible parties accountable. Contact us today for a free review of your case.


Marc Johnston

Lead Attorney at Johnston Law Firm, P.C.

Based in downtown Portland, Marc A. Johnston is the owner and managing attorney of the award-winning, internationally-known personal injury law firm, Johnston Law Firm, P.C. Marc's career has been dedicated to representing the injured and individuals who have been treated unfairly by an insurance company. His focus on trial law creates the backbone of the Johnston Law Firm — a firm that is ready to go the distance in seeking justice for its clients.