If your community has a swimming pool as one of it’s amenities, consider yourself lucky as we embark on what is promising to be a scorcher of a summer in Massachusetts. Last year at this time many homeowner’s associations made the difficult decision to keep community swimming pools closed due to the coronavirus. This year, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC),has given new guidance that allows pools to open for the season.
As pools begin to reopen this year, now seems to be a good time to review pool safety in your community and what the responsibilities of the HOA may or may not entail.
Lifeguard or No Lifeguard?
Every community eventually faces this question regarding whether to staff the community pool with a trained lifeguard or to have a “Swim at Your Own Risk” policy. There are pros and cons to each in regards to cost and liability.
Sadly, the CDC reports that there are more than 3,500 unintentional drownings every year across the country. To prevent this, many associations hire trained lifeguards or pool monitors to regulate behavior and the amount of people in the pool at any given time. The benefit of this is the added security and peace of mind that comes with a certified lifeguard at the pool’s edge. Unfortunately, hiring a lifeguard or even a pool monitor can be expensive and prohibitive for smaller communities.
The “Swim at Your Own Risk” policy also comes with advantages and disadvantages. For instance, the cost savings of creating rules and allowing community members to follow independently is remarkable, but it comes at the risk of loss of life should a swimmer encounter trouble. The safety of the swimmers is left up to the guests at the pool, often with an emergency phone setup to use in the case of a situation should arise.
Having a lifeguard means the liability and insurance for the pool area safety lies with the vendor supplying the lifeguards. Conversely, the “Swim at Your Own Risk” policy does come with liability issues for the HOA. Each community should review their insurance and liability requirements before opening the pool and other amenities each year to their community members.
Create Rules and Regulations for Pool Area
Regardless of whether your community pool has a lifeguard or not, there should be a list of rules prominently displayed that explains what behavior is allowed and what is not. These could include:
- No Diving
- No Running on the Pool Deck
- No Glass Containers in the Pool Area
- No Electrical Devices in the Pool or on the Edge
- No Fooling Around in the Pool or on the Deck
- No Swimming Alone
- No Swimming During a Storm
- Swimming Only Allowed During Posted Hours
- ____ Number of Guests Allowed
Cleanliness of Pool Area
Depending upon the property management rules, your pool area may be a carry-in-carry-out pool, meaning whatever you bring there, must leave with you. That includes trash, chairs, and towels. Having rules about the cleanliness makes the pool area nice for everyone in the community.
Looking for more ideas on ways to keep your pool area safe this summer? Check out the guidance from the CDC and property management resources.