We’ve got some record breaking temperatures and hours of sun this summer in BC, and households with swimming pools are quickly becoming hot spots themselves. Friends and family members are coming out of the woodwork and neighborhood kids are joining in to make your backyard look more like the local community center. And while it can be a blast to serve as the host to this summertime fun, it also increases your liability risk.
Household swimming pools are major safety hazards when the appropriate measures aren’t taken. Statistics on the matter read quite tragically, as 24% of drowning deaths in BC occur in swimming pools with infants and toddlers being the primary victims.
Before your household and guests take another step towards your pool this season, be sure to dive into the checklist below to keep everyone safe.
7 Insurance and Liability Safety Tips for Residential Swimming Pools
1. Have a “Lifeguard on Duty” at All Times
As the homeowner you are responsible for the safety of those on your property, and this responsibility is accentuated when there are children and/or youth in and around the pool. That means if anyone aged between 1-18 (the age of majority in British Columbia is 19) is enjoying the pool, a responsible adult that is proficient in swimming, has first-aid training, and is of sound mind (i.e. has not consumed alcohol) should be on premises at all times. If there are small children on site and/or in the water, they should not be left unattended at any point in time, which means you need another responsible adult as back up if you intend upon taking a bathroom break and so forth.
2. Have Appropriate Pool Safety Equipment
Your home pool safety checklist should include a list of safety equipment which includes all of the following:
- Personal flotation devices – For young children and weak swimmers.
- Shepherd’s hook
- Throw ropes with ring buoys
- Safety signage – Post signs to remind participants not to run, jump, or dive as appropriate. In addition, have “Slippery When Wet” cones for the deck.
- Non-penetrating pool cover – For when not in use.
- First aid kit
- Poolside waterproof phone w/list of emergency phone numbers
3. Additional Safety Installations for Small Children
In addition to the required items, you may also want to consider modern pool safety installations when small children frequent the pool area. These include the following:
- Pool alarm – Alerts you if an object weighing 15 lbs or more falls into the pool or if there is an unwanted entry.
- Alarmed pool enclosure – Fences or gates to block access to pool unless unlocked and opened by a responsible party.
4. Abide by Pool & Hot Tub Council of Canada Guidelines
The contractor who installed your residential pool should have abided by Pool & Hot Tub Council of Canada (PHTCC) guidelines regarding swimming pool construction. But should have won’t play as well in a liability lawsuit, which is why you will want to verify adherence to PHTCC guidelines with the contractor who performed the installation. If they are unknown, you will want to have a professional pool installer perform an updated inspection. The Council has provided a wealth of FREE resources on the matter, with documents addressing relevant safety items such as suction entrapment avoidance provisions and more. The Pool Council of Canada has also outlined pool construction guidelines for you and your installer to reference. Adherence to these guidelines will not just help ensure the safety of everyone who enters your pool, it will further reduce your liability risk.
5. Keep Area Free of Obstacles
The pool deck and surrounding area must be kept free of obstacles at all times so that anyone passing by does not trip and fall. Hazardous items can include pool toys, shoes/flip-flops, towels on the ground, and more. Even household pets playing or laying around the pool can cause guests to fall in so keep them away from the area when entertaining.
6. Receive Parental Consent
If your child’s friends are coming by to enjoy the pool, make sure that you receive consent from their parents. Ideally (from a legal liability perspective) you would have them sign a liability waiver, but this of course would not be realistic for most scenarios. At the very least, there should be verbal consent. That being said, if you are hosting a swimming party (for a birthday, etc.) and there will be children whose parents you don’t know in attendance, asking them to fill out a liability waiver is not so far fetched.
7. Add More Robust Personal Liability to Your Insurance Policy
When purchasing your homeowners insurance policy, it is essential that you inform your insurance broker of any pools/hot tubs etc. on the property, as an appropriate homeowners policy may cover you for some swimming pool liability concerns. However, you may also want to consider purchasing an umbrella personal liability insurance policy. It can cover large claims and/or expensive lawsuits that you, dependents (your own children) or even your pets may cause when guests frequent your swimming pool. With sky-rocketing personal injury and legal costs, it is wise to consider securing a policy that can protect you from the added liability risks inherent in pool ownership. Contact an independent broker at Park Insurance today to learn more. Have a great summer!