Pool Ownership Includes Responsibilities
Safety Measures and Proper Coverage Are As Necessary As Water And Towel
Owning a pool can be a wonderful thing, providing the convenience of quick and cool dips on a hot summer day, a useful exercise option, and a setting for family fun. But pool ownership also provides responsibility, so steps to keep yourself, your family and your guests safe are absolutely necessary.
For all the enjoyment a pool offers, there are also dangers; 137 children under age 15 drowned in pools or spas between Memorial Day and Labor Day last year, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. An additional 168 children required emergency response for what where characterized as near-fatal incidents during that same time period.
"As easily as a pool can be a setting for a perfect summer day, it can be a setting for an unforgettable accident," said Ron Stouffer, senior vice president for Allstate Insurance Company. "Pool owners need to think about safety, about security, about liability and about local ordinances, and take steps in each of these areas. It's not enough to wait for a warm day, fill the pool with water, and have a great afternoon, because a pool is a pool around the clock, and every pool has its dangers."
A first practice would be to try and keep everyone as safe as possible when they are using the pool. Steps would include:
- Make sure everyone in the household knows how to swim, has a basic knowledge of pool safety and knows the pool rules. CPR training is also advisable.
- Never leave toys or floats in the pool when it's not in use.
- Keep life saving gear such as a first aid kit, reaching poles and buoys readily available and in proper working condition.
- Children should always be supervised while in the pool.
- Keep children away from filters and devices with suction force that may cause injury or drowning.
Almost as important is keeping people safe when they are not using the pool. Steps that help in that task include:
- Enclose the pool with a fence that stands at least four feet high and has a self-closing and self-latching gate. Avoid fences with vertical bars spaced more than four inches apart and chain-link fences that are easy to climb.
- Keep patio furniture away from the fence so people can't use it to boost themselves over the fence.
- Install and use a lockable safety cover on your pool or spa.
- Consider using a surface wave or underwater alarm
Not to be overlooked are the dangers of small inflatable pools. While larger backyard pools get covers, fences and locked gates, small inflatable pools have no barriers to keep inquisitive toddlers away. A child can drown even in shallow water in the time it takes to grab a towel from indoors. Tips to be followed when using inflatable pools include:
- Supervise infants and toddlers, always being within touching distance.
- Know CPR. Be prepared to rescue a child with life saving techniques if necessary.
- Drain the water and deflate the pool when it is not in use
- Follow the layers of protection rule with large inflatable pools. Set up as many barriers as possible to make it difficult for a child to get to the pool such as door alarms, fencing, safety covers and locks.
For those who own or are considering installing a pool, it's important to understand the local regulations relating to a pool. A pool is considered an "attractive nuisance," in other words, too tempting to resist, especially to children. Your kids may sneak out the patio door when you're not looking, or neighborhood kids may trespass to get to the pool when you're out of town. These are the types of scenarios that the safety requirements of towns and insurance companies typically address. Some cities may require all residential swimming pools to have a barrier around them. Other factors like diving boards, visibility from the street and whether the pool is in-ground may affect the insurability of the swimming pool.
An Allstate insurance agent can provide the details regarding the insurance implications of having a pool. Once you learn what safety precautions your insurance company requires, the conversation may turn to your liability coverage in the event that someone is hurt in your pool and files a claim against you.
While most homeowners policies include a minimum of $100,000 of liability protection, you may want to consider increasing the amount to $300,000 or $500,000. In addition, you may consider purchasing an umbrella liability policy, which typically costs about $300-$500 annually depending on the state, the characteristics and the coverage, and can give you $1 million in liability protection above what you already have on your home.
The Allstate Corporation (NYSE: ALL) is the nation's largest publicly held personal lines insurer, serving approximately 16 million households through its Allstate, Encompass, Esurance and Answer Financial brand names and Allstate Financial business segment. Allstate branded insurance products (auto, home, life and retirement) and services are offered through Allstate agencies, independent agencies, and Allstate exclusive financial representatives, as well as via www.allstate.com, www.allstate.com/financial and 1-800 Allstate®, and are widely known through the slogan "You're In Good Hands With Allstate®." As part of Allstate's commitment to strengthen local communities, The Allstate Foundation, Allstate employees, agency owners and the corporation provided $29 million in 2012 to thousands of nonprofit organizations and important causes across the United States.
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