May is Water Safety Month — a time to raise awareness about the importance of staying safe in and around the water.
Many people enjoy spending time in pools, lakes, and boats as the weather starts to warm. However, it is crucial to remember that water can be dangerous, and accidents can happen. In the US, drowning is the second leading cause of death among children aged 1 to 4, and the third leading cause among youth aged 5 to 19.
If you own a lakefront cabin, a boat, or have a pool on your property, your chances of being held liable for an accident occurring on or near your property increase. With this in mind, keeping safety measures in place can sometimes feel overwhelming. Therefore, we have gathered safety precautions for you to adopt.
Safety Tips for Pool Owners
Pools can be a great source of fun and exercise. Keep these tips in mind to ensure the safety of you and your guests:
- Install proper barriers. Install a secure fence around your pool area to prevent unauthorized access, especially for homes with young children or pets. The fence should have a self-closing gate that is at least four feet high.
- Install pool alarms. Never leave children unattended or allow them to swim without adult supervision. Pool alarms can alert you when children enter the pool unsupervised.
- Keep the pool clean. Regularly clean your pool to prevent the growth of bacteria and algae. Monitor and adjust chemical levels as needed.
- Use safety pool covers. Invest in a reliable pool cover that can hold the weight of children and adults, effectively keeping them out of the pool.
- Keep rescue equipment nearby. Ensure that lifesaver rings, Shepherd’s Crooks or life hooks, rescue tubes, and first aid kits are easily accessible to help ensure pool safety.
- Have an emergency rescue plan. Maintain a list of emergency contact numbers, including 911. Consider learning CPR as it can help save a life while waiting for medical professionals to arrive.
Safety Tips for Lake Home Owners
Lake homes provide a serene and picturesque setting for summer activities. Here are some tips to help you stay safe:
- Wear life jackets. Always wear life jackets when boating or swimming in the lake. Children and inexperienced swimmers should wear life jackets even when playing near the water’s edge.
- Be aware of the weather. Check the weather forecast before going out on the lake and be prepared to return to shore if conditions become dangerous due to storms or other factors.
- Keep a first aid kit. Have a well-stocked kit on hand to treat minor injuries before medical professionals arrive.
- Know the lake. Familiarize yourself with the lake’s layout and any potential hazards, such as underwater obstacles or drop-offs.
Safety Tips for Boat Owners
Boating is a fun way to spend time on the water. Follow these tips to prioritize safety:
- Know the rules. Familiarize yourself with boating laws and regulations in your area, including speed limits. Gain knowledge about safe boating practices, navigation rules, and emergency protocols through boater education courses.
- Be aware of other boats. Maintain a safe distance from other boats and be mindful of your surroundings.
- No drunk driving. Never operate a boat under the influence of alcohol. Intoxicated individuals should be prohibited from operating or driving a boat.
- Perform regular maintenance. Keep your boat in proper working condition by adhering to maintenance schedules, including engine checks, fuel systems, and electrical components.
- Ensure adequate safety equipment. Stock your boat with life jackets, fire extinguishers, distress signals, and a first aid kit. Additionally, maintain functional navigation lights and a sound-producing device.
Unexpected Situations That Can Lead to Lawsuits
Despite taking precautions, accidents can still happen. Pool owners, lakefront cabin owners, and boat owners can be sued if someone is injured on their property or in their watercraft due to the following:
- Slips and falls. Wet surfaces around a pool or lake can be slippery and lead to falls. Pool owners may be held liable for injuries if they fail to clean up spills promptly.
- Drowning incidents. Owners may be held liable for negligence if someone drowns in their pool, lake, or while boating. Providing adequate supervision and safety measures is crucial to prevent such accidents.
- Boating accidents. Boat owners can be held liable for accidents caused by negligence or improper maintenance. Regular boat maintenance and responsible operation are essential to avoid accidents.
- Failure to secure pool or lake areas. If a pool owner fails to secure their area properly and a child wanders in and drowns, the owner may be liable for damages. Similarly, a lakefront homeowner may be responsible for injuries if underwater hazards are not properly marked.
Situations Covered by Standard Liability or Homeowner Insurance
Most homeowners’ policies cover the cost of repairs or damage resulting from perils like fire, storms, wind, or theft. Personal liability policies pay for third-party injuries such as broken bones, cuts, bruises, slips, falls, and electrocution.
However, it is still crucial for property owners to prevent accidents by installing safety features in their pools to reduce potential liability. Insurance experts recommend increasing liability limits for homeowners with an increased risk of water-related accidents. Additionally, purchasing umbrella insurance can provide extra protection beyond the boundaries of a standard policy and cover situations not covered by it.
Umbrella Insurance and Boat Insurance: Comprehensive Coverage for Unexpected Situations
While homeowners insurance provides liability coverage, it may have limited caps. In situations where accidents result in severe injuries or significant property damage, umbrella insurance, and boat insurance come into play:
This additional liability coverage extends beyond the limits of your standard homeowner’s insurance policy. It provides a safety net in case you face a lawsuit and needs protection beyond the typical liability cap. Umbrella insurance can cover medical expenses, legal fees, and damages, offering peace of mind and safeguarding your financial well-being
If a property owner is sued and the damages exceed their policy limit, umbrella insurance can help cover the difference. For example, if a pool owner is sued for damages resulting from a slip and fall, and their liability insurance policy has a limit of $500,000, but the damages awarded are $750,000, the umbrella insurance can cover the additional $250,000.
Boat insurance is specifically designed to protect you and your vessel against various risks, including damage, theft, and liability. It offers coverage for property damage, bodily injury, medical payments, and other potential liabilities resulting from boating accidents. Boat insurance ensures you are protected while enjoying water activities, whether you’re on a lake, river, or ocean.
Owning a boat on your lakefront property exposes you to potential costs. Boat insurance can help cover expenses such as boat repair, medical expenses due to injuries, emergency towing or labor services, and more.
As we observe Water Safety Month, take action to protect those around you and ensure your peace of mind by obtaining the right insurance coverage. Additional protection such as umbrella or boat insurance can go a long way in safeguarding your enjoyment of recreational activities.