Facts You Should Know About Public & Residential Pool Liability

Residential pools and public pools share a lot of qualities in common. In this article, we will share some important information about the ways in which public pools are subject to special considerations. 

In public pools, swimmers are sometimes required to fill out and sign a waiver of liability before swimming. This is especially true if the pool is equipped with potentially dangerous attractions such as diving boards and slides. Requiring visitors to fill out a waiver form is also a good idea for owners of private pools. This can help limit liability. 

Most public pools provide a lifeguard, but you may be surprised to learn that not all public pools are required to have a lifeguard all the time. This may be determined by the way in which the pool is funded. If it receives public funds, a lifeguard is required. If it is privately funded, this may not be the cse. There are also laws that require warning signs in the event there is not a lifeguard provided. These signs provide rules and cautions and alert swimmers to safety equipment and features that are available. In the section below, we will discuss these signs in more detail. Despite all of these variations, generally speaking a lifeguard is required at all public pools in every state in the US. This requirement is essential to swimmer safety. 

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Public pools are also required to have safety fencing. The exact type of fencing required is determined by the city, county and/or state where the pool is located. Specifics include the type of materials to be used, the height of the fence and the width of spaces in the fence, the types of locks and gates that are acceptable and any other details considered essential. 

Most states require that public pools follow specific guidelines regarding pool hours and acceptable age of swimmers. The hours must be clearly posted, and usually specific hours must be set aside when children can swim separately from adults and vice-versa. Furthermore, details regarding the age at which children can swim without an adult supervising must also be posted. 

The ratio of swimmers to lifeguards is another important consideration at public pools. There must be enough lifeguards in attendance to respond appropriately in an emergency. Furthermore, safety equipment, communication devices and first aid kits must be kept in good working order at poolside. For both public and residential pools, following these guidelines can help reduce liability in the event of an accident. More importantly, following these guidelines can ward off accidents and mitigate damage and injury caused in the event of accidents. This helps reduce danger to swimmers and assures the ability to get good liability insurance coverage for the pool. 

Illnesses & Injuries Associated With Pool Water & Chemicals 

In private pools and public pools, it is always smart to stay on top of hygienic practices and to use safe chemical treatments. Swimmers can be injured or sickened by unhygienic conditions or by chemical imbalances. You may hear the term RWI in connection with this type of incident. This acronym stands for “recreational water illnesses”. These are illnesses and injuries caused by contact with unclean pool water or chemicals in the water. Examples include respiratory illness, gastrointestinal illness and infections of the ears, eyes and respiratory system. Pool operators and pool owners must be certain that pH levels and chlorine levels are always appropriately maintained. Pool owners may find it helpful to contact the Center for Disease Control to take advantage of free resources designed to help in dealing with RWIs. In both commercial and residential pool settings, it is important to always use pool chemicals correctly and safely. 

Signage For Pools 

Each state sets forth rules and guidelines regarding the information that must be posted at poolside. Generally speaking, these signs provide essential information such as: 

* Emergency Phone Numbers

* Sanitation Rules

* Occupancy Capacity

* Restricted Area Information

* Diving Warnings

* Shut-Off Switch Labels

Other information may also be included. These signs are intended to foster safe swimming and reduce liability. You can find many ready made signs by visiting our gallery of pool signs. You can also customize one of our sign templates to design your own unique poolside signs. Be sure to read up on your state’s requirements so that you can be certain of being in compliance. 

Fencing For Pools 

A good fencing system greatly reduces the chances of wandering children, pets and even some wildlife being drowned. They reduce danger, and they reduce liability risk. Municipalities, counties and states often establish their own pool fence standards. It’s important to verify the regulations in your area before investing in pool fence. Depending upon the type of pool in question and its location, you may find pool barrier regulations in zoning ordinances, building codes, administrative codes and/or statutory codes. For example, you will usually find regulations for residential pool fencing in both local and state building codes. Generally speaking, standard international construction codes are referenced in the designing of these state and local codes. The International Building Code and The International Residential Code are frequent sources of information. Look for specific information here: 

* International Residential Code-Appendix G

* International Building Code-Section 3109

These two sources are fairly identical. We provide specifics for every state and locality in the US. We also provide thorough explanations of the information contained in these two sources. 

It is common knowledge that a residential pool presents some serious liability risks for owners and users, even when safety precautions are closely followed. It stands to reason that the liability risks for public pools would be much greater. Operators of public pools must deal with myriad challenges, including: 

* Legal responsibility

* Water sanitation

* Pool temperature

* Pool chemicals

* Sexual abuse

* Employees

* Lifeguards

* Crime

 …and more.

With so many possibilities for liability complications, it is clear that a public pool much have very good insurance coverage. Often public pools must have insurance coverage in order to get permission to operate. This is true of municipal public pools, hotel and club pools and other commercially operated swimming facilities. 

A typical swimming pool policy covers property, as well as liability exposures. This type of policy covers incidents that are related to:

 * Pool operators

* The pool facility

* Equipment

 * Lifeguards

 * Board

 * Staff

* Sexual abuse 

* Molestation cases

…and other situations as needed or specified. 

When a policy intended for a specific purpose (e.g. a pool management company; a swim team; a community event) is needed, it can be obtained. For both public and residential pools, “umbrella policies” are available. These are intended to supplement the basic liability coverage. These types of policies are typically in the $5-$15M range for public pools. For a private pool, a $1M policy is typical. 

Just as with all insurance, the amount of coverage and the cost of that coverage can vary greatly depending upon the type of pool being insured and anticipated use. Basically, whether you are a private pool owner or a public pool operator it is smart to do thorough research before purchasing your insurance policy. In this way, you can be sure you will always be covered.