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Be mindful of ‘attractive nuisances’ this summer

Three smiling kids playing on floating toys in the pool
Keep everyone safe this summer by being mindful of attractive nuisances.


From the birds singing, the peepers peeping and children playing to their heart’s content, these are the sounds and sights that signal summer’s arrival. Coming around just three months per year, summer is a time to make hay while the sun shines, as the old saying goes, especially for youngsters freshly out of school who are back to doing what they love: being a kid. From trampolines to teeter-totters, swing sets to swimming pools, they have plenty of opportunities to expend their energy.

While these can serve as engaging ways for children to get outside and enjoy the great outdoors, trampolines, playground equipment and swimming pools can become problematic if you fail to implement the proper precautions.

What is an ‘attractive nuisance’?
In the insurance industry, recreational apparatuses are known as “attractive nuisances.” There’s actually an attractive nuisance doctrine, which the International Risk Management Institute says primarily refers to homeowners. Under the attractive nuisance doctrine, homeowners may be held liable for circumstances wherein children – “attracted” by property or equipment that’s inviting, like swimming pools, trampoline or even farm animals – become injured.

Of course, parents are always responsible for the health and well-being of their children. But when other kids come onto your property to play, you may be financially culpable for injuries requiring hospitalization or the medical treatment that results.

Among the more common injuries stemming from attractive nuisances are the ones that happen in and around swimming pools. According to the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals, over 10 million residential pools exist in the U.S. alone. Their omnipresence helps explain why an estimated 5,900 injuries occur annually, based on the most recent figures from the Consumer Product Safety Commission. That number doesn’t include drownings.

Kelcy Berry, sales executive at PayneWest Insurance, said some of the more effective ways to reduce the risk of injury is by being proactive, installing no-slip surfaces, keeping life preservers readily available and never leaving children unattended.

Trampolines can lead to trouble
Trampolines, while fun and entertaining, can also present liability issues. According to the Journal of Pediatric and Orthopaedics, between 2002 and 2011, over 1 million people in the U.S. received treatment for injuries stemming from trampoline use. These injuries, which mostly included broken bones, cost over $1 billion to treat. Additionally, of those injured, nearly 93 percent were 16 years of age or younger.

There’s no denying swing sets, bounce houses and inground swimming pools bring loads of fun that kids can enjoy safely. However, it’s important to be cognizant of the liability and insurance implications that can result due to accidents or misuse, Berry advised.

“Trampolines must always have a safety net and be located in a fenced-in yard with a gate that locks from the inside,” Berry said.

Pool with swimming rings.More than 10 million homeowners in the U.S. have recreational swimming pools.

Knowledge is power
Information is your best defense when it comes to liability and knowing what equipment can cause accidents. Thus, understand what aspects of your property may be considered attractive nuisances. Playgrounds and swimming pools apply but they can also include abandoned cars, ponds and farm equipment. If you’re not sure about a specific item, talk to your insurer.

You can also guard against the potential for accidents through prevention, such as by building a fence around pools, installing barriers around trampolines or removing broken equipment that kids may use for playful purposes. In short, defense is your best offense.

Keep your summer healthy and liability free by doing your due diligence. PayneWest Insurance can help you obtain the coverage you need to stay protected such as through an umbrella insurance policy.

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