By Marcus Fernandez
The sun is shining, the weather is perfect, and the pool is ready for guests. But as a homeowner, are you? Before you or your guests dive in, it’s important to make sure that your home meets pool safety guidelines to better protect guests and help prevent uninvited visitors. Conversely, those involved in a pool accident must know their rights, too.
Whether you own a pool or frequent one, you should know what constitutes negligence, what pool safety measures you should take as a homeowner (or guest), and what to do if you or a loved one is injured in a swimming pool accident. Being prepared will make those days lounging poolside all the more enjoyable.
Pool Safety Steps
No matter what you might have heard or been told before, the pool owner is responsible for providing a safe environment for both children and adults who use the pool, as well as for people who live near the pool.
[Tweet “Most accidental drowning cases occur when the pool is not actively being used. “]
Contrary to popular belief, most accidental drowning cases occur when the pool is not actively being used. That’s a scary fact, but the good news is that there are a few steps you can take to ensure you’re creating the safest environment possible, whether you’re at home or away:
- Provide non-slip surfaces around the pool area
- Install and secure a pool cover when the pool is not in use
- Require that children and adults use the pool while supervised
- Research home insurance coverage and consider a separate pool liability policy
- Display appropriate pool signage with rules and regulations, like
- NO LIFEGUARD ON DUTY
- “NO DIVING” in 4-inch letters (for pools larger than 200 square feet)
- Pool hours: __ a.m. to __ p.m.
- Bathing load: ___ persons
In addition to the safety steps above, the Florida State Legislature passed the Residential Swimming Pool Safety Act in 2009 to help reduce the number of child drownings related to private pools. Here are a few fencing guidelines to get you started:
- Be at least 4 feet high on the outside
- Not have any gaps, openings, indentations, protrusions, or other components that could allow a young child to penetrate the barrier
- Be situated around the perimeter of the pool and be separate from any enclosure used to surround the yard (unless the yard enclosure meets the pool barrier requirements described here)
Remember, this is not a complete list and should be followed in conjunction with state, county and local law and requirements.
Accidents & Injuries
Even when you post the appropriate signage and obey pool rules, the fact of the matter is, accidents can happen. If you or a loved one have been involved in a swimming pool accident:
- Take the names, address and phone numbers of witnesses
- Take photographs of the scene, including any prevention elements that are missing or items that have contributed to the accident
- Write down information about the incident and make notes of what occurred, including conversations with witnesses and responding emergency personnel
- Keep a copy of any police or hospital records
Perhaps most importantly, don’t wait to contact an experienced swimming pool drowning lawyer. They’ll be able to protect your rights during the traumatic and emotional time following a pool accident, and can quickly navigate the legal situation and assess what issues, if any, contributed to the accident.
For homeowners and visitors alike, spending time at the pool should be a fun and enjoyable experience. By following the simple steps and guidelines listed above, you can help ensure a safe swimming environment for yourself and others. Now you can lather on that sunscreen, grab a towel and have a great time!