Is a Swimming Pool an Attractive Nuisance?

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Kid using floaty (Photo:@rgags via Twenty20)
An attractive nuisance is a structure or item that attracts the attention of children while also posing a safety risk. So, if you’re wondering whether a swimming pool is an attractive nuisance, the answer is a resounding yes!
For most children “pool” is synonymous with “fun” because they’ve most likely spent time in a pool swimming and having a good time with family and friends. Therefore, it can be hard to instill caution in children when it comes to an attraction that is both fun and poses a significant safety risk.
However, teaching your child (and any child that may come onto your property) about pool safety and securing the area around your pool is extremely important. In fact, swimming pool accidents are one of the top causes of accidental deaths in children. Swimming pools are especially hazardous to children under 5 years old because, as mentioned earlier, they do not understand the dangers of drowning.
Because a swimming pool is an attractive nuisance, a homeowner (or landowner) that has one on their property carries the responsibility of keeping visitors and residents of all ages safe. Here are a few tips to secure your attractive nuisance.

Build a Fence

A good way for a landowner to keep young children safe from the dangers of a swimming pool is to erect a fence. Depending on where you live, it may be the law for your fence to be between four to eight-feet high (with four feet being the minimum). You should also have a self-locking gate to prevent the gate from being left open unintentionally which could give a child access to the pool area unsupervised. If there is already a fence around your pool, make sure that it is an adequate height and that it is in good condition. A short, decorative fence or a fence with a few gaps will need to be replaced or brought up to standard.

Get a Cover

When your pool is not in use, cover it. Make sure it is a hard cover that cannot cave in if someone were to fall or climb on top of it. A cover that is flimsy or not in good condition can pose an even greater safety hazard than not having a cover at all. If a cover caves in and fills with water, it can easily trap a struggling person and make it hard for them to swim or climb to safety.
It is a good idea to get a solid pool cover even if you don’t have children. When you own a pool, there’s always the possibility that child trespassers will scope out your pool and use it when you’re not home. If child trespassers are harmed when you are not on the premises, as the property owner, you still may be liable for injuries or death that happened on your property.

Always Supervise Children

Anytime children are playing in or around your pool, make sure there is at least one adult supervising. Ensure it is someone responsible who knows how to swim and has not consumed any alcohol. When it comes to supervision, the more sets of eyes the better. Pool accidents can happen in an instant and often require a fast reaction. Also, a child struggling in a pool may not make a lot of noise, so stepping away for a moment could have dire consequences.
It’s important for pool owners to stay vigilant, even while children are indoors. If you have young children and a pool, it’s advisable to get a security system that beeps when an exterior door is opened so you will know if a child has wandered outside.

Install alarms

Speaking of alarms, it’s also advisable for pool owners to install alarms on their pool gates. Occasionally children have the tenacity to get into places designed to keep them out. Even if a fence is tall enough, a child can climb the fence, unlock it, and gain access. A pool gate that is easily unlocked means that your pool is in dangerous condition. If you are a landowner, installing an alarm that will sound when the gate is opened will give you that extra level of security and peace of mind. An alarm also acts as a deterrent for children and potential child trespassers.

Remove ladders

If your pool is above ground, remove any ladders or steps when it is not in use. Children are taught to enter the pool using the ladder and steps, so if the ladder is absent, it will give the children fewer ways to enter the pool.
As a homeowner, you are required to take the adequate safety measures to secure attractive nuisances on your property. Other examples of attractive nuisances include:
  • Artificial ponds
  • Decorative fountains
  • Treehouses
  • Playground equipment
  • Abandoned cars
  • Old appliances
  • Trampolines
  • Gym equipment
  • Construction and building materials
As mentioned earlier, even if a child is breaking the law and trespassing on your property, you can be held liable for an injury that occurs from an attractive nuisance. Children do not fully understand the dangers of entering your property, especially when you have enticing features like a swimming pool, playground equipment, or any other attractions they may consider fun. 
Because of this, attractive nuisances are a liability that needs to be covered by your property insurance. If someone suffers damage or injury on your property, they can sue you to cover the loss. In that scenario, the courts will examine the safety measures that you have installed to protect your attractive nuisance. It is important to speak with your insurance company to make sure you and your assets are protected.