Avoid Premise Liability: Safeguard Your Pool Before Summer

As a kid, I always looked forward to Memorial Day because it signaled the start of swimming pool season. Until we were about 10 years old, my brother and I took year-round swimming lessons, but we always looked forward to that first swim of the year in an outdoor pool.

Looking back, I realize that swimming lessons weren’t just intended to teach us a sport. My parents invested in swimming lessons because they realized that knowing how to swim could save our lives.

According to the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission, each year more than 300 children under the age of 5 drown in pools. Another 2,000 kids are treated for submersion-related injuries. Swimming pools, hot tubs, and spas are fun, but they also pose a serious danger.

If you own a swimming pool, experts suggest that you have several types of protection, equipment, and safety procedures in place to prevent injuries and death.

Install and use the following protective measures:

  • Your pool should be entirely surrounded by a fence that’s at least 4 feet high. The fence should be a smooth construction to make it difficult for kids to go over, under, or through the barrier. Any gates should be self-latching and locked.
  • If doors from your home lead directly to the pool, install door alarms that sound when the door is opened. (A keypad can be used to temporarily disable the alarm if an adult wants to use the door.) Also install a deadbolt lock that requires a key to open the door, and don’t keep the key in the lock.
  • Consider a motorized pool cove that would be difficult for a young child to remove.
  • Install a pool alarm, which either floats on the surface or uses infrared beams below the surface to detect movement in the pool.
  • Keep floatation devices and poles close to the pool, but don’t rely on these to keep non-swimmers safe.
  • Always have a phone near the pool.

Remember that even the best protective equipment is worthless if it isn’t used correctly. Alarms should be tested regularly, and you should make sure that doors are closed and locked, and covers are on when the pool isn’t being used.

When the pool isn’t in use, also put away all pool toys that could tempt kids. If you have an above-ground pool, you should also remove the ladders and steps leading to the pool.

Adults and kids who are around water should also learn survival skills and practice good pool-safety practices:

  • As soon as your child can crawl, he or she should be taught water survival techniques.
  • Even children who know how to swim can drown. Regardless of age or swimming ability, don’t let children swim without supervision.
  • Anyone who is regularly supervising swimmers should know CPR and other first aid techniques.
  • Know that drownings can occur even when children are supervised. Adults who are supervising kids at a pool shouldn’t be distracted by phone calls, text messaging, personal conversations, or reading material.
  • If you or a neighbor have a pool and your child goes missing, the pool should be the first place you check. Time is of the essence when saving children who are submerged in water.
  • If people are swimming outdoors and it starts to thunder, get out of the pool and into a safe shelter. Stay out of the pool for at least 30 minutes after you last hear thunder.

Legal Risks

Swimming pools can be fun, but drowning is one of the leading causes of death among young children. If you have a pool, you have an obligation to take all of the necessary steps to ensure the safety of your family, your neighbors, and your guests–even uninvited guests. But you should also be prepared for the worst-case scenario: Accidents can happen, even if you have taken all of the necessary precautions. As a pool owner, you need to protect yourself if an accident occurs.

Purchase swimming pool insurance coverage. Your homeowner’s insurance, renter’s insurance or condo insurance usually will not cover you for pool-related accidents and lawsuits. You may also want to purchase a separate liability policy.

Check with your insurance agent to find out what safety and protective equipment is required by your policy. Also ask whether discounts are available if you install additional types of equipment, such as pool alarms.

Finally, before buying a home with a pool, installing a pool, or making major improvements to your pool, contact your local and state government to learn what laws in your area govern home swimming pools

By: Jennifer King

At Maya Murphy, P.C., our experienced team of personal injury attorneys is dedicated to achieving the best results for individuals and their families and loved ones whose daily lives have been disrupted by injury.  Our personal injury attorneys assist clients in New York, Bridgeport, Darien, Fairfield, Greenwich, New Canaan, Norwalk, Stamford, Westport, and throughout Fairfield County. If you have any questions relating to a personal injury claim or would like to schedule a free consultation, please contact our Westport office by phone at (203) 221-3100 or via e-mail at JMaya@Mayalaw.com 

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