MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Miami-Dade Commissioners voted unanimously to strengthen pool safety laws Tuesday in hopes of saving lives.
The vote was especially meaningful for Chris Sloan whose son Calder, nicknamed Mr. Awesome, died when he dove into the family pool earlier this year. It’s been exactly 6 months and one week. Sloan addressed commissioners before the vote.
“He had no idea that as he swam toward an electrified pool light at the deep end, Calder’s deep breath would be his last. He was jolted horrifically by an awaiting silent killer.”
Sloan recalled in his remarks.
“We know that Mr. Awesome is very proud of what you are doing to protect others,” chairwoman Rebecca Sosa told Sloan.
READ: CBS4 Investigation Leads To Miami-Dade Unanimously Passing New Law
Calder’s death was followed by another shocking incident in Hialeah. Three kids managed to escape their pool when family pulled them out.
CBS4 investigated the incidents and found something alarming, two sets of standards.
Commercial pools were required to carry low voltage lighting which is survivable in an accident. Residential pools though could carry high voltage which can be deadly.
Miami-Dade’s building department took a closer look. Pool builder Irv Chazen was relentless in a campaign to change it. Commissioner Edmonson agreed something needed to be done.
“After watching your commentary on TV, I just said somebody has got to do it. Somebody has got to take this on and make these pools safer. Especially for our children,” Edmonson said.
Calder Sloan (Source: Facebook) Calder Sloan (Source: Facebook)
Edmonson’s law will require low voltage in all new residential pools now, not just commercial pools. She’s planning further action.
“I think it’s something that needs to be statewide. I would love to see the state legislature take it through,” Edmonson said.
That’s easier said than done though. Changes at the state level could take years. Meanwhile counties could individually address the issue much faster.
Chris Sloan may be the one to lead the charge as a state or possibly national level. He proposed much more than low voltage Tuesday. He proposed 5 solutions including:
A) Inspections of private pools must be mandatory and not just new construction. Existing pools need this oversight and assurance as well. When electrical changes are made to a pool such as new lighting systems, replacement pool pumps or waterfalls, these changes must be permitted and inspected as would any major electrical work. Local governments can waive permitting and inspection costs as an incentive to home owners.
B) Even if there is no work being done, homeowners should be educated and given incentives to have their existing pools inspected. This should not just happen at the time of a home purchase or new build but at periodic intervals. Insurance companies can incentivize homeowners with discounts on their homeowners insurance. Local or state governments can incentivize with a one-time discount in property tax.
C) Pool equipment manufacturers and builders should take a leadership role in educating their customers about these dangers through word of mouth, pr campaigns, viral marketing, and advertising.
D) An entire house not being grounded is even more insidious and exposed with often fatal results. Again, insurance companies and local or state governments can incentivize homeowners to have a home electrical inspection done or make it mandatory on a yearly basis, much as vehicle inspections used to be mandated on automobiles. Further, FP&L could be tasked with checking once a year that the grounding rods are installed on a home during one of its meter readings and then after warning home owners that these need to be repaired, enforce the warning by remove the meter or shut down the power until the grounds are installed.
E) Finally, inspectors, contractors such as plumbers and electricians, and pool maintenance companies themselves need to be held more accountable. They need to carry proper amounts of insurance and oversight. Inspectors who don’t properly inspect the work as in our case are not doing their jobs and putting lives at risk. Pool companies who maintain pools every week and don’t warn customers about potential signs such as corroding pool lights aren’t doing their jobs either.wants inspections, awareness campaigns, and new standards to save lives.
“If one thing is proven, is that awareness needs to rise. If Calder’s short life can stand for saving lives, starting here in Miami-Dade County and this example can be spread across the world than that will truly be awesome and make our son very, very proud,” said Sloan.
It will take about 30 days for the law to go into effect. Broward County began the process of passing a similar law a few weeks ago. It goes to a final vote later this week.