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Remember the “Baby Swimming and Surviving” video floating around Facebook or YouTube in years past?  It shows a toddler in a blue fuzzy sleeper falling into an in-ground swimming pool at home and then he simply kicks to reach the surface and rolls safely on to his back.  Brace yourselves, it’s pool season again, and we wouldn’t be doing our job if we didn’t talk about pool safety.

It’s a Really Big Deal

We sell insurance to protect you against disastrous situations. We know certain topics are unpleasant to talk about, but drowning is a really big deal and we want you to be educated.  Thousands of people drown each year, and according to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), drowning remains the fifth leading cause of non-accidental deaths in the United States.  The CDC also states that one in five drowning deaths are children 14 years old or younger, and many more children will receive emergency treatment for non-fatal submersion injuries.  These “non-fatal injuries” can be severe and even cause brain damage that can result in long-term complications, or even cause the loss of basic functioning.

What does that have to do with my insurance?

If you have children, you’ll want this information for their safety; if you own your home, you will want this information for your safety.  Your homeowner’s policy includes liability coverage for bodily injury and property damage in which you are legally responsible for, and swimming pools injuries are certainly something you would be held liable for.  Liability is liability – we’re not just talking about the folks with beautiful in-ground pools in their back yards, we’re also talking about folks with the 3’-4’ pools that may only be up during summer months.

Swimming pools are considered an “attractive nuisance” in the insurance industry.  “What the heck does that mean?” you may be asking.  An attractive nuisance is basically an item on your property that is likely to attract children and could cause injury and in most instances the property owner may be held liable for these items.  Some other common examples are trampolines, old cars, old appliances, sand piles, etc…

Many things that fall under the attractive nuisance category can easily be removed from the premises; thereby removing the exposure from risk.  While an above ground pool may be somewhat easily removed when drained, an in-ground pool certainly is not, and most people that purchase pools – or homes with pools – are interested in using them.  Once you notify your insurance agent you have a pool (yes, you are supposed to do that), the first question you will be asked is if you have a fence.  The next question will be, “How high?”  In order to avoid accidents and tragic injuries, most insurance companies require at least 4’ of fencing around the yard containing the pool, or the pool itself.  Some companies will also require a locking mechanism be present on the gate, or that in-ground pools have a lockable safety cover when the pool is not in use.

I have a pool, what should I do?                                                 

In order to protect yourself from liability situations arising out of the ownership of a swimming pool, the following safety precautions are recommended by multiple sources:

  • Adult supervision is required at ALL times for ALL pools
  • Commit to being a “Water Watcher” and trade off with other adults after specified amounts of time. You can download more information here
  • Swimming lessons/water safety classes
  • CPR Certification
  • 4’ fence with self-closing/latching mechanism and/or lock
  • Keep your pool clean and clear
  • Install alarms – gate alarms, surface/wave/underwater alarms
  • Do not allow any running near the pool area
  • Avoid the use of diving boards and slides (many insurance companies will prohibit the use of these items)
  • Never allow children to swim without an adult or experienced swimmer
  • Use anti-entrapment drain covers
  • Never allow children to play near drains or suction outlets
  • Always keep a phone nearby when the pool is in use
  • Have in-ground pools inspected annually by a trained and qualified inspector
  • Communicate your pool use expectations and rules to friends and neighbors
  • You can also visit www.poolsafely.gov to download apps, songs, videos, video games, posters to color, etc…

When the Pool is Not in Use

  • Remove ladders or steps, toys, and any nearby electronics from the pool area
  • Use a pool safety cover (preferably locking)

Please Be Safe

With pool season in full swing, we will probably see the “Baby Swimming and Surviving” video go viral again this summer.   While that video may seem a little extreme, the message of pool safety and ensuring children are unharmed, is not.  Whether you own a wading pool, a larger above ground pool, an in-ground pool, or just have children who love to swim, we want you to be protected.