‘Makenna’s Law’ would regulate water pressure at splash pads in Ohio

Columbus

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Going to the waterpark is a summertime favorite for many families, but one mother and her child are warning against a danger that parents and their kids might not know about.

“I received a phone call around 2:30 p.m. that no parent wants to hear– my child was crying and sobbing,” recalls Kim Manion, who testifies to those harrowing moments in front of the Ohio Health Committee last month. “Her clothes were soaked in blood, she was still hysterical, and she was in intense pain.”

In November of 2019, Manion’s daughter Makenna — who was only 7 at the time — was attending a friend’s birthday party at an indoor water park near Cincinnati.

While playing near one of the park’s water features, Makenna was severely injured.

“I was scared, and I was crying a lot,” admits now 8-year-old Makenna.

The mother of Makenna’s friend immediately called Manion, who raced to the park to pick up Makenna.

Manion then rushed her to the emergency room where she underwent exploratory surgery.

“Two hours that I couldn’t be there with my baby and didn’t know if she was going to be okay,” Manion remembers. “I had no idea the water pressure could cause such a traumatic injury.”

Doctors located a laceration in Makenna’s groin causing significant bleeding.

The injury was a result of the water pressure at the splash pad where Makenna had been playing, according to her mother.

“Currently there is only one state in the nation that actually regulates the pressure of these waterpark features,” says Representative Jean Schmidt, who sponsored House Bill 178.

Manion’s emotional experience resonated with Schmidt, who takes her own grandchildren to the water park on occasion. It’s why she is pushing so hard to get approval for the bill now known as “Makenna’s Law.”

“Basically, what it says is when you go to a splash pad park, that it will now be regulated with so much pressure per inch,” Schmidt details.

Schmidt says Ohio can set an example for the rest of the nation through this piece of legislation.

The bill proposes the following:

The flow rate through a feature nozzle of a water feature, including a fountain or other interactive feature, at public swimming pool, public spa, or special use pool shall be such as not to harm patrons and shall not exceed twenty feet per second unless justified by the design engineer and by the fountain system manufacturer.

House Bill 178

“This is just a safety feature for our children, when you take them to a water park you don’t think that they can get a serious injury,” says Schmidt.

So far, the Health Committee has heard both sponsor and proponent testimony for the bill.

When they return from summer break, opponent testimony will be heard as well — which Schmidt doesn’t anticipate there will be any.

Schmidt says after the bill is voted on in the House, it will then be moved to the Senate. They hope to have full approval of the bill by October.

As for Makenna, Manion says that her daughter is doing well, and doctors don’t anticipate any long-term effects from the injury.

But for the bravest girl Manion known, this was Makenna’s chance to be a voice so other children never have to share her pain.

“I want this to be a law, so nobody gets hurt like I did,” Makenna testifies.

The Department of Health is the regulatory authority on the matter.

Schmidt says they already oversee other water feature regulations, and they would be responsible for following the guidance and regulations that would come with the implementation of this bill as well.

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