How can you prevent accidental drowning? How can you to protect yourself and your family from injury? How can you make sure your pool is safe year round, reducing the chances of liability for injury?
Take a look at Las Vegas from the air:
There are a lot of swimming pools scattered around the city. Hotels, attractions and amenities in the city all contain pools or ponds of some type, not to mention the huge bodies of water in front of The Bellagio, Treasure Island, The Mirage, The Venetian and other properties nestled on the resort corridor.
In 2014, Clark County had 34 submersion incidents, 85% were of children four years old and younger. 73% of those were in residential pools, totaling 32 non-fatal drownings and two fatal drownings with one being a child between 0-4 years of age. Thus far in 2015, there have been 26 submersion incidents, 54% of victims have been four years old and younger with 61% of those incidents happening in residential pools totaling four fatal drownings, with three of those being children 0-4 years of age.
Who is responsible if anything happens in or around your swimming pool?
Unbeknownst to most, the responsibility of providing a safe environment around pools and bodies of water is the owner of the pool. So if you own a home that has a pool and something happens to someone, you are liable for the personal injuries sustained, even if you weren’t directly involved.
What are the risks of owning a swimming pool?
If you are considering placing a pool on your property, it is important to know the responsibilities and risks of owning a pool. A pool is often considered the greatest legal and financial risk a person may ever take with regard to their personal property. The responsibility of a pool, or any body of water for that matter, cannot be taken lightly because disregarding the enormous responsibility could have tragic end results, like serious personal injury or a wrongful death.
There are a lot of people who underestimate the dangers of swimming pools. They mistakenly believe that injuries only happen when people are swimming while intoxicated, engaging in horseplay or misusing the pool. Quite to the contrary, did you know that it is when the pool is NOT being actively used that the most accidental drowning cases occur? The most tragic swimming pool accidents and accidental drowning stories we hear about are ones of unsupervised children who innocently wander away and in mere seconds, slip beneath the surface of the water and drown. Contrary to popular belief, there is rarely any splashing or screaming involved in drowning. It is quiet, it is quick, and the victims don’t get the chance to yell or motion for help.
What can you do to protect against accidental drowning?
Like pool ownership, protecting everyone from personal injury, accidents and accidental drowning, it is a full-time job. Pool ownership isn’t just about making sure the pool is full, the water quality is clean and that the decks are free of debris, it is about supervising it at all times. But the most dangerous part of owning a pool is when you can’t supervise it. No person can be expected to act as a sentry on the decks 24/7, but there are ways that you can ensure the safety of your family and your guests by following these easy steps.
It’s Your Home Pool: Reduce the Risk of Accidental Drowning
- Install gates and fencing that is at least 4 feet high and completely surrounds the pool.
- Access gates to the pool should be self-closing and latch automatically when closed. The gate latches should be high enough to be unreachable by a child.
- If a child goes missing, check the pool first.
- Install a pool alarm that sounds when the surface of the water is disrupted.
- Install and use a pool cover that can be used and secured when the pool is not in use.
- Make sure everyone in the household knows CPR and that you have proper rescue equipment kept within easy reach near the pool.
What is a pool owner’s Legal Accountability and Liability?
As we’ve covered, the owner of the pool is the person responsible for providing a safe environment for those who not only use the pool, but those who live near it. For some homeowners, accountability and liability is not something they want to think about, much less shoulder such enormous responsibility. It is for this reason that some homeowners choose not to have a pool on their property. When you own a pool, you are responsible for those who come into contact with it. Here is a list to help you reduce accident liability:
- Supervision – Make sure that everyone, children and adults alike, use the pool under supervision.
- Restricted Access – Make sure that you never allow the pool to be unattended if it is accessible.
- Clear the Water and the Decks – When you’re done using the pool, clear the water and decks of pool toys so that children are not tempted to try to play with them in or near the water.
- Insist Parents Supervise Their Children – When visiting your home as your guest, remind parents to supervise their children.
- Don’t Drink and Swim – Don’t allow an intoxicated person to use the pool.
- Keep Lifesaving Items Nearby – Keep proper rescue equipment within easy reach near the pool.
- Just Because It Floats Doesn’t Mean It Is Safe – From inflatable boats to rafts and floats, never rely on flotation devices to protect individuals using the pool from drowning.
- The Million Dollar Decision – Purchase an insurance policy for your home which includes coverage for any possible accidents that could occur, including around the pool. The normal suggested policy minimum is $1 million.
- Here’s Your Sign – Never rely on warning signs such as “Swim At Your Own Risk” to protect you against liability or a lawsuit. It doesn’t matter what type of sign you put up, if someone gets injured or drowns in the pool you are responsible for, expect that a claim will be filed against you.
Pool Safety Is the Pool Owner’s Responsibility
As the property owner, you are responsible for keeping your pool secure. If an incident occurs, the homeowner can be held liable if they allow unwanted or unsupervised individuals to access the pool, and adequate measures have not been taken to prevent that access. In other words, it’s your pool; you’re responsible for what happens in it and around it.