Summer may end, but swimming pool liability goes on

Depending on where you live, warm-weather activities, like swimming, might be the last thing on your mind in winter.

Depending on where you live, warm-weather activities, like swimming, might be the last thing on your mind right now (unless you're dreaming of a winter escape further south). 

At the beginning of summer, swimming pools around the country are filled with water in anticipation of another swimming season. That's when people tend to think about pool safety. Yet, when pools are emptied at the end of summer, they leave a big … gaping … concrete hole in the ground.
If you're responsible for a pool that is closed part of the year, you should know that they can pose as much of a liability hazard as open pools.

Tenants at an apartment complex or vacationers at a hotel likely never consider the potential liability exposures of a swimming pool, whether it's open or closed for the season.  However, the owner of that apartment or hotel should be aware of the hazards associated and control them the best they can.  

Recently closed up the pool for the season at your business? Here are some questions to consider:

  • Did you re-check fencing, gates, and locks? They received a lot of use over the summer and just might be in need of some repair love.
  • Did you follow balancing, shocking and algaecide best practices before closing the pool? 
  • Have you taken steps to prevent water from freezing and causing cracks and other problems? Things like draining and blowing out water from all plumbing and equipment and using plugs for all of the loose ends. Swimming pool anti-freeze is another option for your plumbing related equipment.   
  • How well have you covered your pool? Did you check for rips and tears? Be sure to find out where your water levels need to be for your specific pool cover type. Covering your pool is essential for safety and maintenance reasons.
  • Do you have a process for keeping the water balanced throughout the winter months? This is especially important if you live in areas where temps don't get below freezing.
  • Have you considered using an air pillow, especially for above ground pools?  Air pillows help compensate for the weight of ice and snow on pool covers in those chillier climates that are prone to more freezing weather.
  • Did you take down diving boards, slides and ladders and store away poolside furniture? 
  • Have you posted signs that clearly state the pool area is closed for the season?

With regular inspection, maintenance and enforcing strict pool rules, you can prevent off-season pool accidents which helps to make sure everyone stays safe in the winter. Prefer to have your pool closed by an experienced professional? Consider hiring a reputable company to do all of this for you, and use this handy checklist to make sure they are on track. Here's another great pool closing resource. 

Did you know OSHA offers FREE On-Site Consultations to small to medium-sized businesses?  Check out OSHA On-Site Consultation Services for Small Businesses for more information.
The CDC also offers information on how to properly operate and maintain public pools.  Visit CDC Pool Operation and Maintenance webpage for more information. 

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