If you have a pool, no doubt you have heard the following statistics: every day, six people die by drowning in swimming pools. Drowning is the second leading cause of death among children, and in some states, like California and Arizona, it is the leading cause. Some 5000 children receive injuries from drowning: 15 percent of these children die from their injuries, while another 20 experience significant, irreversible brain damage. 70 percent of the time, drownings occur when one or both parents are present. And nearly all of these can be prevented with the use of proper pool fencing. But if you don’t have kids; why does any of this apply to you?
If you are a pool owner, regardless of whether you have children, it is a moral responsibility to have a fence, safety cover, or mesh net in order to prevent accidental drownings. Why? Do any of your family members have children? Do any of your friends? Do any of your neighbors? Despite the best efforts, children can wander away from sight for a few minutes, and a few minutes is all it takes to receive severe to fatal injuries.
But what about those people who say, “Well, if parents can’t keep their kids out of my yard, that is not my problem.” Well, it is your problem. You can be held liable for any accidents or injuries that occur on your property. If a neighbor’s child wanders over and falls in, it is a tragedy. It is also a tragedy that can be considered your fault. As a result, you may find that it is difficult to get home insurance, and you can be sure you will not pay a pretty premium for a policy you do manage to get.
You can be sued as well. There are lawyers, especially in states like California, who specialize exclusively in swimming pool and hot tub/spa accidents. In some states, the child is considered a “trespasser,” and you may not have much legal responsibility for an injury or death. But in many states, counties, cities, and towns, there are laws that govern what safety measures must be undertaken by pool owners.
In California you can be held liable if you do not take adequate measures to make your pool inaccessible to children. Whether you invited your family over for a swim or some child wandered in from the house down the street, you are responsible for making sure that pool is safe. New York State requires every pool installed after December 14, 2006 have a pool alarm or power safety cover. Standards may be legally different in your community, but as a pool owner, it is a good idea to figure the cost of a fence, alarm, and other safety precautions into your budget when you are purchasing a pool or buying a property with a pool.
Is having a fence to guard your swimming pool a legal or a moral issue? It is both. You will be held financially responsible for accidental drownings and near-drownings, and your insurance premiums will skyrocket. But financial loss is nothing compared to knowing that your backyard pool was the cause of a terrible accident. Whether you are guided by…