Whether you’ve worked hard and finally purchased the home of your dreams—complete with a swimming pool or you’ve owned a property with a pool for some time now, it’s imperative that you learn all you can about protecting yourself from pool liability by following pool safety rules and obtaining the appropriate liability coverage.
A swimming pool is a fantastic amenity that you’ll enjoy with your family and friends. However, it’s also an enormous responsibility and one that you can’t take too lightly.
While we don’t want to dampen (pun intended) your favorite summer fun spot, we do want to share some fascinating facts you might now know about pool liability.
Take a look.
Your Pool Is Called an “Attractive Nuisance” by the Insurance Industry
In the insurance industry, we call anything on your property that’s irresistible to children (and even adult trespassers who should know better) an “attractive nuisance.” This term refers to human-made lakes, fountains, abandoned vehicles, and, perhaps most notably, swimming pools.
Those perils are all considered “artificial conditions” instead of natural hazards on a property.
You should assume that your pool will attract attention and uninvited guests, and you must secure it appropriately at all times.
You’re Responsible for Pool Security
If an uninvited swimmer sneaks in for an evening dip and has an accident, you might be held responsible.
Protect yourself by employing every possible measure to create a visible barrier between your pool and intruders.
Some of these can be:
- A fence
- Locking the pool gate
- Visible warning signs (i.e., “Swim at Your Own Risk)
- Pool alarm that senses when someone enters your pool and alerts you to the intrusion
You are Bound by Local Laws and Ordinances
Local municipalities have strict laws and ordinances related to pool safety. You, the homeowner, are solely responsible for remaining in compliance with those laws.
These laws dictate every variable from pool depth to diving board height (if permitted at all) and fence requirements.
So, if you purchased a home with a pool, you are liable for injuries. In the unfortunate event of a trauma, you can quickly get in over your head (another intentional pun) with the authorities, even if the pool existed when you purchased the home.
As the owner of a property with a pool, you are responsible for learning these ordinances and keeping abreast of any changes to keep your pool compliant.
There are Many Possible Pool Injuries
While the worst case scenario that you have heard over and over again is drowning, swimmers are more likely to experience lesser injuries—from which you should protect yourself.
In fact, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that an average of 390 drowning deaths in a swimming pool occur each year. While these deaths are tragic, that’s a relatively small number when you consider the number of pools across the nation.
Some of the other injuries that can stem from swimming are:
- Slip and fall injuries leading to lacerations, contusions, sprains, strains, and broken bones.
- Head injuries from diving or horseplay.
- Cuts from broken glass.
- Circulation entrapment injuries due to the suction of the pool equipment.
Education is Key
Educating your family members of all ages about pool safety and setting strict guidelines is a primary key to preventing tragedies.
The U.S. Product Safety Commission explains that 47% of pool injuries involving children occur in a residential pool. Of those, 77% of the children were missing less than five minutes and were not supposed to be near the pool.
- Ensure that you set firm safety rules and instill a healthy respect for water safety in your home.
- Teach your children to swim (after all, you do have a pool!).
- And, make sure that you have safety equipment installed poolside—and that physically-able family members and visitors understand how to use it.
A Final Note on Protecting Yourself
If you own a home with a pool, ask your local insurance agent to assess whether you have an ample amount of liability protection under your homeowner’s policy. A single slip-and-fall by the neighbor’s kid can tarnish your friendship and set you back thousands of dollars.
And that can be a real cold splash of water in your face.