Taking advantage of the summer weather while it lasts in Canada often means enjoying a nice day in your pool.
A day at the pool can provide hours of fun, however, if people using the pool are not careful, this activity can be dangerous and result in accidents that can lead to a home insurance claim. On average in Canada, 290 people drown each year. 26% of these deaths are from swimming recreationally. It is important to remember that you are liable for people's safety when they are on your property and using your swimming pool.
Pool-related accidents are a serious matter and happen too often, but there are practical ways to try and prevent these accidents from happening. Continue reading below to learn 15 pool safety tips that can help make your pool safer this summer and help to avoid pool-related accidents.
Your Pool and Its Impact on Your Home Insurance
Having a pool, or deciding to build a pool, will impact your home insurance rate and policy, as you are increasing the value of your property (the amount it would cost to rebuild it) and adding a risk factor. It will be important to speak with your Ontario insurance broker to adjust your home insurance coverage and policy accordingly. It is recommended that you increase the personal liability portion of your home insurance policy so you are protected if someone is hurt or injured when using your pool. Some people may choose to purchase umbrella liability coverage to make sure they have enough coverage. You will also want to make sure that you have adequate coverage if your pool is damaged, or if your pool causes damage to someone else's property from a leak, overflow, etc.
Does the Liability Coverage on Your Home Insurance Policy Cover Accidents in Swimming Pools?
If there is an accident at your pool, your home insurance may cover it, up to a point, unless the homeowner is found to have been negligent.
Tips to Avoid Pool Accidents
1: Avoid Excessive Use of Cannabis or Alcohol
Unfortunately, many pool-related injuries and accidents occur due to high levels of intoxication. Your reaction time and your inhibitions are heavily affected by alcohol and cannabis. This means alcohol and cannabis consumption doesn’t only affect your ability to swim but also affects your ability to supervise children near the pool. The best way to stay safe is to stay sober or drink and use cannabis responsibly.
2: Understand Your Skill Level
Most adults believe they are strong swimmers but may not be aware of their actual limits. In a survey conducted by The American Red Cross, 80% of participants claimed they could swim, while only 56% could actually perform the five basic swimming skills outlined by Red Cross. If you have a pool, it is a good idea to have your family and the people who frequent your pool take swimming lessons so they are confident in the water.
3: Do Not Allow Shallow Water Diving
Shallow water diving can cause extreme injuries to the neck, back, and brain. If your pool is six feet deep or less, nobody should be diving into it, even if they are experienced. It is also a good idea to have no diving signs up around the pool.
4: Use the Buddy System (All Ages)
The buddy system is one of the best ways to keep everyone safe when swimming. No matter how old you are or how experienced you are, if an accident occurs you are always safer if someone is there to take action. Never go swimming alone, even if you are an adult, and only allow children to swim if they are being supervised by an adult.
5: Use Safety Equipment
Use personal flotation devices for children and anyone who is not experienced in the water. You should also keep a life preserver close by which can be used if someone who doesn’t have their own flotation device is struggling in the water. It is also recommended to have a first aid kit on hand, as well as a list of emergency contact numbers.
6: Keep Up with Pool MaintenanceYour pool needs to be continuously cleaned and tested to ensure it is a safe swimming environment. Be sure to remove any leaves or debris in the water and keep the water clean with proper chemical use or cleaning processes. Conducting a quick daily inspection of your pool is a great way to ensure those who will be swimming throughout the day are entering a safe swimming environment.
7: Keep Pool Chemicals Away from Children
Keeping your pool clean means using pool chemicals, but these need to be not only out of reach but also locked away from children. Pool chemicals can be hazardous if they are damp, so if a child knocks them over near the pool they can mix with water and become very reactive. This is a very important step in ensuring everyone’s safety.
8: Become CPR Certified
Knowing CPR can be the difference between life and death. CPR can be used to stabilize someone until help arrives, so you should consider taking a CPR certification course or getting re-certified if you have taken a course in the past.
9: Don’t Allow People Using the Pool Area to Run or Engage in Rough Play
Areas around the pool can often be wet and can increase the risk of people slipping and falling. It is best to always encourage people not to run when around the pool and to not engage in rough play in or around the pool. It is also a good idea to put up signs around the pool that say no running and no rough play.
10: Make Sure Your Pool Area is Protected by a Fence
A pool can often attract trespassers, so it is important to make sure your pool is protected by a fence and gates that can be locked. It is also recommended to have ‘No Trespassing’ signs on your pool fence and gates. It may also be a good idea to install an alarm on your pool gate that alerts you every time the gate is opened.
11: Remove Ladders when not Using the Pool
If you have an above-ground pool that had a ladder, it is recommended that you take the ladder out of the pool when you are not using it.
12: Keep Pool Toys and Accessories Organized
It is important to keep pool toys and accessories organized and stored properly to help prevent tripping and falling around the pool area. Make sure to remove pool toys and accessories from the pool when the pool is not in use to avoid attracting the attention of young children. Be sure also regularly to check the condition of the toys and accessories.
13: Do not Allow People to Play with Pool Drains, Pumps, Suctions, or Covers
Pool drains, covers and pumps can be a safety hazard if something gets caught in them, so make sure to not allow children to play with them and to check them regularly for maintenance issues that may arise. You may want to consider installing anti-entrapment drain covers and safety release systems to prevent drain entrapment. It's important to remember that your pool cover can be dangerous in the winter months as well.
14: Do not Swim During Bad Weather
If a thunderstorm or heavy rain begins, it is important to have people get out of the pool and stay out for at least 30 minutes after the last thunder is heard or lightning is seen.
15: Don't Be Distracted by Your Phone
Phones have become an integral part of most people’s everyday lives, but they can also serve as a major distraction. If you are supervising others at the pool try and put your phone away somewhere safe so that you are not distracted and looking at or talking on the phone instead of supervising. Your phone should still be quickly accessible if you need to call for help.
Following these 15 pool safety tips is an important way to prioritize everyone’s safety and to help make pool accidents less likely to occur. If an accident does occur, you will want to be fully protected and covered with the right home insurance policy. Contact your Ontario insurance broker to ensure your home insurance policy adequately covers your pool and pool-related incidents. Stay alert and aware around the pool so you and your family can stay safe and enjoy the beautiful Canadian summer weather while it lasts!
For more information on how a pool may impact your home insurance policy, read our blog, How a Pool can Impact Your Home Insurance Policy.