Property owners have the obligation to ensure their visitors are safe. This is not limited to public places such as grocery stores or government buildings but also a neighbor’s backyard. While this obligation includes correcting tripping hazards and other dangers, a neighbor with a pool has a special responsibility that may be a matter of life or death. Known as an “attractive nuisance,” an unprotected swimming pool can be a deadly lure for small children.
Drowning is the most common preventable cause of death for children between ages 1 and 4, but even older children may fall into a pool and be unable to get out. Nearly 70% of those children who died in Florida swimming pool drownings managed to get to the pool when it was unattended. Pool owners should take every reasonable step to prevent these tragedies, including:
- Erecting a fence at least 4 feet high that completely surrounds the pool
- Separating the pool from the house so children cannot wander from the house into the pool area
- Making sure the fence has no footholds and that children cannot use furniture or other objects to climb into the pool area
- Building a fence with slats no wider than 4 inches so children cannot squeeze through
- Placing the latch out of a child’s reach
- Keeping the gate locked when the pool is unattended
Installing alarms is also a proven method of preventing drowning. Alarms can detect motion in the water when the pool is not in use and alert the homeowner when someone has entered the pool area. Homeowners with pools or other types of attractive nuisance may be liable for tragedies that occur when they fail to install and implement these safety devices.