Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death in children ages 1-14. Whether you’re a homeowner or a business owner, if you have a pool or spa, you have an attractive nuisance. This is a liability which leaves you open to risk exposure.
Pool & Spa Liability: Homeowners (PDF)
Get an Umbrella Policy for Your Pool or Spa
When an accident involves your pool, you are liable – regardless of whether you gave consent for the individual to be on your property. For instance, if someone takes a midnight swim in your pool, even if they are trespassing, you can be held liable if an accident occurs. You need to think about the potential for lawsuits. An umbrella policy can help to protect your assets and assist in legal fees should a lawsuit arise.
No one wants to invite an accident, so the proactive route is the best option for mitigating any risk. In addition to insurance, take steps to protect your property, deter unwanted access to your pool, and to keep your loved ones and guests safe.
Pool Safety Steps – Layers of Protection
Install compliant drain covers.
The Pool and Spa Safety Act requires that all public pools must have specific drain covers to avoid suction entrapment issues. Even though the law does not require personal pools to have special drain grates installed, you should install them for your own safety. Suction from pool drains is so powerful that it can easily entrap a child or even an adult, making it impossible to escape and causing the person to drown. Hair, arms, legs, bathing suits, or jewelry are all entanglement hazards. And teach children to stay away from pool drains.
A fence of at least four feet (4’) in height should surround the pool or spa on all sides. Make sure children cannot climb these barriers (chain link can be easy to climb), and teach kids not to climb fences around pools. (If it’s locked, it’s locked for their safety!) Install self-closing, self-latching gates to enter the pool/spa area. Install a door/gate alarm from the house to the pool area. Keep pool and spa covers in working order and tightly covered when not in use.
Never leave a child unattended.
Always have rescue equipment available (shepherd’s hook, life hook, life rings) and within easy reach for an emergency. Designate an emergency phone and keep it in the pool area at all times so you can easily call 9-1-1 in an emergency. Businesses should also hire full-time certified lifeguards and post signs when no lifeguard is on duty.
Take CPR training.
Bystanders are the first to aid a drowning victim, so learning CPR can help save a life. Enroll your employees and family members in CPR classes and keep CPR certifications current. CPR classes are available through many hospitals and community centers or by contacting the American Red Cross. Anyone who is near the pool area should be trained on lifesaving techniques, not just lifeguards, because they may end up being the first responders (pool-area waitstaff, janitorial, maintenance, locker room attendants, towel persons, family members, etc.).
Teach everyone about pool safety and swimming techniques.
The obvious proactive thing to do is teach your children to swim. Take a class with the YMCA or enroll with a one-on-one instructor. Formal classes are great because they will also include techniques on becoming a confident and strong swimmer, as well as how to tread water and stay afloat in a threatening situation. Panic is a common reaction, which uses energy and worsens a drowning situation. Practice emergency situations and how to react in the water. Teach your children to stay calm and use their lifesaving skills.
If you’re a business, train your staff and make pool safety a part of your risk management plan. We have online training solutions for you.
As summer approaches, the pool is the place to be. Have fun this summer and practice safety vigilance!
Rebecca Little, MLIS
OSHA-Authorized Trainer for General Industry