- Premises liability. By themselves, pools and their surrounding infrastructure (walkways, platforms, ladders, and so forth) implicate the legal principle of premises liability. A homeowner owes a visitor a general duty to keep the home and its surrounding property reasonably safe for the visitor. If the homeowner is aware of a dangerous condition, such as a damaged step that could cause cuts or trips, the homeowner needs to warn guests about the condition. Homeowners who plan to host parties should take a moment to make sure there are no hazards that could make the pool area unsafe.
- Know your insurance coverage. Pool owners know that a pool makes a homeowner’s insurance policy more expensive. It’s important for the homeowner to know about the scope of coverage in the applicable insurance policy. If the policy contains specific limits, the party may need to be designed around those limits. Perhaps the policy will not cover injuries to children who are left unsupervised, or it won’t cover injuries suffered by people who have been drinking alcohol. Coverage limits may also be important to consider: a drowning could cost the homeowner a significantly greater sum than the default limits of the policy. For a party that’s usually large, such as a wedding, taking out special event insurance might be a good idea.
- Alcohol and pools can be a bad mix. If a party will include drinking, there are a number of special risks that a pool can create. Pool decks can be slippery, and people who have been drinking may be more likely to slip and fall. A person who is especially drunk may have trouble swimming, or in rare cases may suffer a health crisis such as a heart attack. In some cases it may be appropriate to ask people who have been drinking heavily to not use the pool.
- Supervise children. In a party setting it can be easy to lose track of what’s going on in a pool. A child may get into trouble and not be seen until it’s too late. In circumstances where there are a lot of distractions it may be appropriate to designate someone to be an impromptu “life guard” or to ask the kids to get out of the pool.
Homeowners who have pools in their backyards are right to view their pools as great places for entertaining guests. A pool party is fun for everyone. At the same time, a pool always poses certain risks. In a party context, the danger of the pool can be made more significant. Homeowners who plan to hold pool parties should think about a few issues before the party starts.