When the seasons turn and the summer sun comes out, people head outside into their backyards. Hosting barbeques for friends and family is an every-weekend event. Everyone enjoys beating the heat with a dip in the backyard pool, especially kids, . While seemingly harmless, residential pools present a significant risk to children, and the ultimate liability falls on the homeowner.
Dangers of drowning injuries in residential pools
Forty-two percent of non-fatal drowning injuries of children younger than 15 years old occurred at a residential pool. The backyard pools represent the majority of drowning injuries sustained by children. Depending on the severity of the drowning injuries, it's the homeowner of the pool that can be liable for injuries. Dangers are always present when children are playing in the pool. Unlike public pools with a lifeguard on duty, residential pools often don't have the proper levels of supervision. Without supervision of children swimmers, residential pools present an inherently higher liability risk for the homeowner.
Summer months at highest risk for drowning related injuries
Thirty percent of non-fatal drowning injuries of children younger than 15 years old occur in the month of July. The summer months of June, July and August account for 65% of all drowning injuries for children younger than 15. Summer backyard barbecues do lead to more kids in the pool more frequently. While adults should have the same level of awareness of children in the pool all year long, it's the summer months that require the extra eye. More kids in the pool at any given time can present an even higher risk for drowning injuries.
States with most pool related fatalities
States with warmer climates tend to have a higher rate of residential pool ownership. It's no surprise that drowning injuries are more prevalent in those warmer states. Forty-six percent of reported drowning fatalities of children under 15 years old occurred in a residential pool. Summer months in 2018 saw the highest number of drowning fatalities involving children younger than 15 in these states:
- Florida: 21
- Texas: 21
- California: 11
- Arizona: 7
- Tennessee: 6
- Illinois: 6
- New Jersey: 5
Pool safety tips for homeowners
Homeowners and fellow adult guests can take an active role in preventing drowning related injuries during the summer months. Aside from always keeping an eye out, the following tips are great action items to have top-of-mind while children are playing in the pool.
- If you have concerns about guests' behavior around the pool, don't hesitate to curtail their activities.
- Have a list of rules and safety instructions and enforce them at all times with guests.
- Ask guests of their swimming capabilities. If guests are not strong swimmers, they need to be accompanied by a sufficient swimmer.
- Learn basic water rescue skills like first aid and CPR. Have each member of your family learn too.
- Keep the pool visible at all times. Remove toys from the pool when not being used.
Insurance coverage to protect homeowners with pools
As much fun as pools are, they pose an increased liability risk to homeowners. The insurance industry describes pools as "attractive nuisances," essentially calling them dangerous fun. Homeowners with pools need to be aware of the levels of liability coverage on their home insurance policies.
What many homeowners don't know is if someone is seriously injured on your property, it's your home insurance liability that covers medical bills and civil settlements. All home insurance policies carry some levels of liability coverage. The standard HO-3 home insurance policy comes with $100,000 in liability coverage. It's recommended that homeowners with pools increase their liability coverage to $500,000 or more. Many in the insurance industry recommend an umbrella policy that grants an individual one million dollars in liability coverage across all lines of insurance, including auto.
Increasing liability coverage on your home insurance policy is simple. Contact your insurance agent or provider and request an increase in liability coverage. Bumping coverage from $100,000 to over $500,000 is only about a 10% to 15% increase on your home insurance premium.