Warmer weather is here, and that goes hand-in-hand with firing up the grill, stringing up the tomato vines, and – for some people – opening up the backyard swimming pool for the summer season.
If you’re lucky enough to own a swimming pool, summertime is an especially wonderful time of the year. With pool ownership comes a huge responsibility to make sure that everyone who uses your pool stays safe. Mark Alexander, a partner and personal injury attorney with the Stewart Melvin & Frost law firm in Gainesville, Ga., explains the liability for private pool owners.
Question: What are some safety tips pool owners should consider?
Mark: Children in the pool should be supervised by an adult at all times. Remember that a child can drown in less than 5 minutes. Likewise, if your child is visiting someone else’s pool, make sure there is adult supervision.
Never leave swim toys in the pool when it’s not in use – they’re too inviting to a small child who might wander unsupervised into the pool area. Keep safety devices close by the pool, visible and in good shape. It also would be a good idea to learn CPR, just in case.
Question: What are ways to prevent uninvited pool guests?
Mark: Pool owners should place some form of barrier – such as a fence -around the pool to prevent access when not in use. Building codes usually require.
Gates should be self-closing and self-latching. Make sure that the latch is out of a small child’s reach. A lock is even better.
Some pool owners go as far as to install motorized covers and pool alarms to warn of uninvited entry as an added precaution.
Question: What is a pool owner’s responsibility if there is a drowning or serious injury?
Mark: If the unthinkable does happen – a drowning or serious injury at a swimming pool – the owner is not necessarily responsible or legally liable. The duty of the owner is to exercise reasonable care to prevent foreseeable injury and not to protect against any injury.
Most cases involve leaving small children unsupervised around the pool, even if for a short period of time. It is advisable for any owner of a private pool to talk to their insurance agent about an additional liability policy specifically covering pool accidents.
Bottom line: Reminder to be safe! When planning your summer fun also take a second look at summer safety. Whether you own a pool or a gun, we all have a responsibility to take reasonable precautions to protect others from harm.