Many countries have introduced regulations on the subject of Pool Safety in backyard pools
Generally these laws specify a fence or other barrier to the water, with detailed specifications on height, self-closing gates, child-proof locks and catches, no-climb zones (within a certain distance of the fence): - and promising dire consequences if these regulations are not strictly adhered to
For example; all pools in Queensland, Australia needed to be registered by 4 November 2011. There was no charge for registering pool on the register. However failure to register a pool could incur a fine of up to A$2000. Then of course the local authority will come and inspect the pool and probably issue a fine for non-compliance.
Non-compliance - The maximum penalty that can be imposed by a (Queensland) court for pool safety offences is A$16,500 for individuals or A$82,500 for corporations. Looked at in one, slightly skewed, way - the fines just about qualify as a 'Tax on Stupid People'
The regulations are there for the safety and security of all people who might fall into your pool and drown, whether they have been invited to the property or not. Even someone who is robbing your house has a 'right' to this level of protection! It beggars belief but it's true. This group of 'uninvited guests' also includes the 'naughty neighbour kids' who sneaks in for a crafty dip whilst you're out at the supermarket, door-to-door canvassers, etc.
Many countries do not always physically inspect the pools - local authorities just take the word of the person registering the pool, or they don't get round inspect to the property for months or even years - which leaves the system open to abuse. Some people will go to any lengths to avoid parting with money, or obeying 'Nanny-State Rules', designed for their 'own safety'. You just need to remember public resistance to compulsory wearing of car seat-belts, despite widespread public knowledge that seat-belts saved lives, to see the truth of that one
Also, of course, some folks who have misinterpreted the regulations, or have relied heavily on their own imaginary DIY skills, will report that their pool is compliant with current laws when, in fact, it is not.
We once visited a pool where the owner proudly showed us his hand-made 'safety net', which he had made from garden string. I ask you, string!? The chlorine in the pool was destroying the string even as we stood there, gasping in amazement and wondering how to tell him the bad news diplomatically. If anyone had ever fallen on that net it would have fallen apart instantly, probably entangling and immobilizing the victim, with fatal consequences
Any occurrence of an accident at your pool is likely to be investigated by local police and, if the pool does not comply with Safety Regulations, you are wide open to officially imposed fines and privately brought lawsuits
Whether your actions are guided by economics or conscience - installing adequate Pool Safety barriers is a MUST-DO
Think about this for a moment or two: - If someone dies in your pool you can be sued for everything you own. Having a Safety Barrier to guard your swimming pool is both a legal and a moral issue. You will be held financially responsible for fatal and non-fatal accidents, and insurance premiums are likely to be much higher after any accident - if you can get cover at all. There are specialist lawyers in places like California who chosen field of expertise is pool and spa accidents. I bet they don't work cheap!
However, financial penalties are as nothing when compared to the knowledge that your pool was the cause of a terrible, predictable and avoidable accident. You would have to live with that responsibility and guilt for a long, long time
So, you have a choice: -
- Enjoy your pool, secure in the knowledge that it's safe
- Comply, totally, with your local Pool Safety Regulations right now and pay a reasonable amount to have a safe pool - it's much cheaper
- Note: - Avoid buying second-hand Safety Equipment and ensure that it really IS Safety Equipment when buying new items
- If you don't have the ready cash you can buy the necessaries on finance from many suppliers and installers
- If you still can't afford it - have a few fundraiser parties among your extended family, friends and neighbours who will (surely?) be invited to come over to swim your pool
- This approach is to the benefit of everyone who uses the pool and is really achievable
- Oh yes: - Hire a Lifeguard for the party - or get some Safety Training
- You can learn CPR - here are some CPR Course Training Organizations - if you find one that's not listed, please let me know and we'll add it
- You can also make the pool area, and the pump/filter/chemical areas, the safest places they can be
- Then you can be sure that you've done everything possible to protect the lives of anyone who might be at risk
- You'll probably even sleep better, I expect; I know I would
. . . . . . . . . . . .
- Or endure the aftermath of an accident in your pool
- You can spend several months fighting a lawsuit
- Then pay Legal fees - these alone would probably be many times the cost of Pool Safety Law compliance
- Possibly lose everything you own in punitive damages
- . . . and perhaps be imprisoned!
All very soon after an avoidable accident in your pool. Of course, none of the above events are guaranteed to happen - a child who falls in your unprotected pool may survive - but any of them could
Remember; the life that you save could be your child, your grand-child, your wife - or yourself
In a nutshell: Property owners have responsibility to ensure their pool is safe and secure. If the owner of a pool fails to take adequate measures to prevent unwanted or unsupervised individuals from gaining access to the pool, they can be held responsible if and when an accident occurs
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Ken Walker - MyPoolGuru©