Summer Safety Tips: Home Swimming Pools and Your Responsibilities
By Dean I Weitzman, Esq. on June 9th, 2010
Summer is almost here, but your home swimming pool has probably been open for a few weeks and life is feeling pretty good.
That’s great, but don’t be complacent.
There are a myriad of safety and legal issues for you to be thinking about in connection with your pool, and it’s much better to think about them before something tragic happens.
Swimming pools, hot tubs and spas are fun, relaxing and enjoyable but as a homeowner, you must be vigilant, pro-active and firm about setting safety rules and enforcing them so that guests and family members aren’t accidentally injured or worse.
An average of 385 children under 15 years of age died annually in the U.S. due to pool or spa drownings from 2005 through 2007, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
Some sobering facts, from the National Drowning Prevention Alliance:
*Drowning is the second-leading cause of death to children ages 1-4 in the United States.
*In many cases, drowning is a silent event, without splashing or a call for help.
*In most areas of the country, the majority of child drownings occur in backyard pools and spas.
Those are frightening statistics, but through safety rules, careful enforcement and constant vigilance, you can prevent these kinds of tragedies on your property.
Here are some key pool and spa rules from the group, Safe Kids USA, to adopt at your home:
*Actively supervise your children around water at all times, and have a phone nearby to call for help in an emergency.
*Be sure that your pool has four-sided fencing at least four-feet-tall all the way around it. as well as a self-closing, self-latching gate. This protects a child from being able to access your pool and enter it when no one is around. It also protects you from legal action by shutting your pool off to non-authorized users. Be sure to also cover and lock your hot tub when it’s not being used to protect others and to protect yourself legally.
*Safe Kids USA also recommends installing a door alarm, a window alarm or both to alert you if a child wanders into the pool area unsupervised.
*Teach your children and any young visitors that they should never, ever go near the water if an adult is not nearby and directly watching them.
*Enroll your child in swimming lessons after age 4, the group also recommends. Be sure that they know how to tread water, float and stay by the pool wall.
*Know CPR and know how to respond properly and quickly to any type of water emergency in your pool, spa or hot tub on your property.
*Don’t allow the use of bottles or glass dishware near the pool to prevent injuries.
*Don’t allow anyone to run or play near the edge of the pool. Accidents can and do happen.
*Don’t allow consumption of alcohol or drugs around the pool, especially for any adults who are there in a supervisory role with children.
*Use non-slip materials on the surfaces around the pool to prevent accidental falls into the pool.
*Use a properly-sized pool cover when the pool is unoccupied as another layer of protection from accidental drownings.
*Be sure that anyone who gets into the pool knows how to swim and understands you safety rules.
*Check local pool safety requirements in your town and be sure that you adhere to them to limit your legal liability.
*Equip your pool with proper handrails and ladders at each end for safe entry and exit from the pool.
*If you have a diving board, be sure that the pool is sufficiently deep to protect from serious diving injuries.
*Mark water depths on the sides of the pool so visitors understand how deep it is and can stay within their comfort levels.
*Constantly check for damaged fasteners, protruding bolts and other safety issues that could cause injuries to protect your legal interests.
*Have needed safety equipment on hand by the pool, including life preservers, rescue ropes and a first aid kit, and be sure you are trained in using them all.
Summer is supposed to be a fun time, and your lovely pool adds to that enjoyment.
Just be sure to plan ahead to protect yourself and your guests legally so a tragic accident doesn’t put a sad damper on your summer season.
If any kind of accident or injury related to your pool, spa or hot tub occurs, be sure to speak with an attorney to learn about your rights, responsibilities and any obligations.
So go and relax, laugh, swim and enjoy.
Just be careful and follow these basic safety rules to ensure a great summer.