There is no doubt that swimming is the go-to summer activity, however, with all the fun comes potential danger. Swimming pools are an excellent feature for your home whether it is a large in ground pool or an inflatable kid’s pool, we must take the proper precautions to ensure everyone’s safety and prevent an insurance claim. The number of unintentional, often fatal pool accidents is staggering. Not surprisingly the majority involve children under the age of 14. Here is everything you need to know in regards to safety and coverage.
Each city or town has their own local pool laws, based on the size and depth of the water; they require homeowners to abide by certain regulations. Most of our insurance carriers require some sort of fence around the pool, equipped with a gate and a locking mechanism. You may also be responsible for having pool safety equipment near-by.
As a homeowner, you want to keep your liability risk in mind. If you are unsure of your liability portion on your homeowner’s policy it may be a good time to contact your insurance agent and review what you are covered for in case of a swimming pool accident. Most insurance companies suggest that that pool owners should increase this liability portion to at least $300,000 or $500,000-more, depending on if their assets warrant it. Also, if you have not already considered an umbrella liability policy, it may be in your best interest to discuss with your agent. It can provide you additional liability protection which goes over and above what your standard homeowner’s policy does.
With our unpredictable New England weather it is always a smart idea to have enough insurance protection so that you are able to replace your pool if it is ever destroyed by a storm or other disaster. This can be said for any other pool related items also, included deck furniture, equipment, etc.
In addition to standard fences and gates, many people are more comfortable with having added protection around their swimming pools and hot tubs including:
- Alarms on doors leading to the pool area (for example: sliding glass doors)
- Safety covers to secure the pool & hot tub and the areas when not in use
- Self-closing and latching barriers
If you regularly entertain by your pool in the summer, you may want to consider:
- Creating a list of safety rules and post them somewhere where they are easily acknowledged by all guests.
- Having emergency phone numbers, first aid kits, flotation devices, and reaching poles nearby and readily available in case of an emergency
- Being aware of whether or not your pool users know how to swim
- Limiting alcohol use around the water, and restricting the number of activities around the pool for those who do not seem alert enough to use their water skills.
As far as maintenance, you should always know:
- The proper way to shut off filters and other devices and post the steps so that others can do so in case of an emergency
- The proper chemicals and solutions (as well as amounts) to add to your pool and hot tub water, if you are unsure you should consult a professional.
- Check regularly for any potential hazards on decks or around the pool area that may be dangerous or create a slipping hazard.
You can never take too many safety precautions both in and around your pool. Always remember:
- Never leave children unattended either in or around the water. Tragedies can happen in a matter of seconds.
- Keep children and floats away from the pool filters and other mechanical devices. The suction force may injure a person or prevent them from surfacing, and the floats may destroy your equipment if they are sucked up.
- Be mindful of the weather. Extreme heat can be a great danger, especially around a pool. Lightning storms are also a threat, never allow children to swim during this time.
- If your pool has a diving board, keep the diving area clear and make the depth known to all who make use of it to avoid injury.
- Do not leave floats or pool toys inside of the pool when it is not being used. This eliminates the temptation for small children to fall in the water while trying to reach for them.
- Avoid glass drink and serving ware around the pool to minimize the danger of people stepping on broken glass, while also protecting your pool liner from significant damage. Plastic is the way to go.
The more family members who are aware of basic water rescue skills, first aid and CPR training, the better! In that same breath, parents of children who have swimming pools and hot tubs available at home should be enrolled in swimming lessons as early as possible to ensure their safety. Having a pool in your backyard is indeed hours of family fun, but as a responsible homeowner, pool-safety should be your main priority every summer! Enjoy!