Now that the days are shorter and cooler, most people are closing up their pools. Since more people will be visiting your home during the upcoming holidays and since you will have likely less time to watch your pool area closely now that it is not in use, you must take care to carefully secure your pool until the next swimming season to prevent possible property liability issues. Here are some risk factors to consider:
1) Barriers and locked gates. Most young children who drown in a pool were not last seen by a pool. In fact, most were seen in the home and wandered into the pool area without adult supervision. In many cases, young drowning victims were out of their caregivers’ sight for less than five minutes. These statutes point to the absolute necessity of a good barrier and a locked gate. Make sure that the barrier or fence around your pool is secure, whole, and not in need of repair. Make sure it cannot easily be climbed – if there are trees or bushes nearby, trim them back to ensure that no one can climb over the fence. Secure the fence with a good-quality gate that is kept locked at all times. Keep the keys to the gate well out of reach of children.
2) Alcohol. If you have a final pool party, do not serve alcohol. Alcohol does not allow for proper supervision of people near your pool and increases the odds that a drowning will take place.
3) Pool covers. Good quality pool covers offer an extra layer of protection in case someone does break into your pool area. Hard pool covers can also help prevent spinal cord injuries if someone does compromise your fence and gate and your pool is drained for the season.
4) Slippery areas. If you need to service your pool in the winter, keep in mind that the area around the pool can become slippery as the temperature plummets. Keep these areas clean and free of debris and add some no-slip treads or adhesives to the area to prevent slip and fall accidents near the pool.
5) Maintenance. Even if you have locked up your pool area correctly for the winter, you will want to schedule regular check ups of the area. Mark these check ups on your calendar. At least once a month, ensure that the pool area is still secure and that the fence and gate are not compromised in any way. Check for signs of forced entry, damage to the fence or gate, or signs that someone has been near the pool. Repair any damage or breaches at once.
6) Alarms. You might want to install an alarm system near your pool area that alerts you in case the gate or fence are breached. This can help prevent a tragedy, and some alarm systems are not very expensive.