Swimming pool and spa safety issues and insurance coverage

If you are one of the more than 8 million households fortunate enough to have a private swimming pool on your property, responsibility for safety comes with the privilege. Each year, 280 children under 5 years old drown every year in swimming pools across the country. For children aged one to fourteen, drowning is the second-most common cause of accidental death. Even if you don’t have children, be aware that about a third of all child pool deaths happen at pools where the owners have no children.
The Pool Safety Council offers these tips to keep kids safe:

  • Nothing is more important to the safety of a swimming child than the eyes of attentive parents.
  • Keep a landline phone near the pool, so that if there is an emergency you can call 911 and the operator will be able to instantly trace the call and send help.
  • Surround your pool with four-sided fencing and a gate that locks.
  • Never leave children unattended in or near the pool. Drowning takes only a few seconds.
  • Even when there is a group of adults present, make sure one is dedicated to keeping an eye on any children in or near the pool. Giving one person that responsibility makes it far more likely potential problems are noticed right away.
  • Make sure your pool is outfitted with approved safety drain covers and an anti-entrapment device to prevent drain entrapment, the often deadly tragedy of a swimmer becoming trapped by a pool drain’s suction. Public pools are required to adopt anti-entrapment measures by law, but PSC encourages private pool owners to follow suit.
  • Take a CPR class to ensure potential drowning victims do not have to wait for paramedics to arrive.
  • When not in use, keep hot tubs covered and locked.

This is the first summer that the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act will be in place since the law’s enactment in December. This law is designed to prevent the tragic and hidden hazard of drain entrapments and eviscerations in pools and spas. Between 1999 and 2008, there were 83 child entrapment incidents reported to the CPSC, including eleven fatality reports, one of them being the one that took 7-year old Virginia Graeme Baker’s life in 2002. Under the law, all public pools and spas must comply with federal standards, which is great – but bear in mind that the accident that took Virginia’s life happened at a private home. If you are a private pool owner, you may want to voluntarily comply with these standards, too – this news article provides compelling evidence for why.
Additional resources
Pool – spa safety and drowning prevention
Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act
National Drowning Prevention Alliance

Check your insurance coverage
In addition to talking every possible safety measure, pool owners also need to ensure that they are adequately covered against any potential risks. If you have a pool or hot tub or are considering adding one or the other, be sure you talk to your agent to ensure that you have appropriate coverage. Here’s some advice from the Insurance Information Institute about swimming pool coverage:

Let your insurance company know that you have a ool, since it will increase your liability risk. Pools are considered an “attractive nuisance” and it may be advisable to purchase additional liability insurance. Most homeowners policies include a minimum of $100,000 worth of liability protection. Pool owners, however, may want to consider increasing the amount to $300,000 or $500,000.
You may also want to talk to your agent or company representative about purchasing an umbrella liability policy. For an additional premium of about $200 to $300 a year, you can get $1 million of liability protection over and above what you have on your home. This would also provide added liability protection when you drive.
If the pool itself is expensive, you should also have enough insurance protection to replace it in the event it is destroyed by a storm or other disaster.

Holiday road trip tips: stay safe on the highway this Memorial Day

Are you one of the 32.4 million Americans who will be traveling at least 50 miles from home this holiday weekend? If so, you may find some travel bargains – at least in comparison to last year. According to AAA, the average gas price is not expected to top $2.50 over the summer – a big drop from last year’s price, which averaged about $3.80 on Memorial Day. AAA also reports that hotel rates are running about 7% to 12% less than last year.
The National Safety Council (NSC) reminds you to buckle up and drive defensively. NSC estimates there will be 366 traffic fatalities and an additional 19,400 nonfatal disabling injuries. And remember, from May 18 to May 31, the Click It or Ticket seat belt enforcement campaign will be in full force – law enforcement agencies join forces day and night, from coast-to-coast, for an enforcement blitz. The primary audience continues to be men ages 18 to 34, which research shows are less likely to wear seat belts.
Here are some holiday driving safety tips:

  • Plan your trip before you go. Check the clickable map for national traffic and road closure information from the federal Highway Administration. Also, check to see if you can dial 511 to access traveler information in the state of your destination.
  • Prepare your car. Ideally, you should have your car checked before long road trips. At minimum, check your gas, oil, windshield wiper fluid and tire pressure. Clean headlights and mirrors. Be sure you have a spare tire and the essentials in a roadside emergency kit.
  • Be well rested. Driving can be hypnotic – if you are yawning or having trouble keeping focused, pull over and take a short nap. Even if you aren’t sleepy, take a break every few hours to stretch your legs and keep alert.
  • Allow extra time to reach your destination. Leave early and plan to avoid peak traffic hours, if possible.
  • Wear your seat belt and ensure that all passengers wear theirs.
  • Obey speed limits. Speeding is unsafe at the best of times and even more dangerous in heavy holiday traffic. And remember – it’s also illegal. Police will be out in force over the long holiday weekend.
  • Minimize distractions. Turn off the cell phone and bring games for the kids. Read your maps before you go, or pull over if you need to consult one.
  • Don’t tailgate. Keep a good distance from the car ahead of you to allow maximum reaction time. A good rule of thumb is one car length for every 10 miles of speed for cars. Double that for trucks.
  • Use caution around trucks and large vehicles and give them a much wider berth. Don’t pull out in front of them or brake suddenly because trucks require more stopping time. Only change lanes when you can see both of the truck’s headlights in your rear view mirror. Be aware that truck divers can have many blind spots – pass on the left not on the right.
  • Don’t drink and drive. This should go without saying! Also be careful about overindulging in food – that can make you sleepy.
  • Plan for emergencies. Bring phone numbers for your insurance agent and your insurer. Make sure your cell phone is fully charged. Bring a spare car key. The University of Oklahoma Police Department has a great emergency checklist that you can print out to ensure that you have all the info you would need should you run into an emergency or have a lost or stolen wallet.

Life expectancy and your chances of reaching 100

Are you planning to live to be 100? There are about 250,000 centenarians alive today, including several hundred “supercentarians” aged 110+ years. You can get a good idea of your chances of joining their ranks with the Living to 100 Life Expectancy Calculator. This calculator asks you 40 quick questions related to your health and family history, and takes about 10 minutes to complete. It uses medical and scientific data to estimate how old you will live to be. In addition to estimating your life expectancy, it offers a “to-do” list for you and your physician, along with a list of things you can do differently and how many years you will likely add to your life if you do so.

This calculator was developed by Doctor Thomas Perls who is the founder and director of the New England Centenarian Study, the largest study of its kind in the world. We like it because it gets you thinking about lifestyle factors that can influence your odds. But for those of you who want a shortcut, you can get an estimate of your remaining years by viewing the life expectancy chart published by the Office of the Actuary of the Social Security Administration.

Interestingly, according to the CIA World Factbook’s life expectancy chart ranking various countries, here in the U.S., we rank at #50 at 78 year and 11 months. Macau tops the chart with a life expectancy of 84.36 years. Here are some of the oldest people on earth. View portraits and read the stories of some people whose lives span three centuries.

By the way, if you are planning to live to 100, make sure your retirement planning takes that into account – life expectancy is an important factor in your financial planning – talk to your insurance agent if you expect to join the ranks of centenarians!

How safe are your favorite kids on their new jobs?

Our workers’ compensation service partner Lynch Ryan had previously posted this on their Workers” Comp blog – we thought it was important advice that bears repeating as we approach the summer months.
If you are a parent of a high school or college age kid, you are probably familiar with the quest for the summer job. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, more than 2 million teen workers flock to the workplace, many for the first time. Think back to your first job – it can be an exciting thing to earn that first paycheck. It can also be very dangerous. Every year, about 70 teens are killed on the job and about a quarter of a million suffer injuries on the job. That means that about once every three minutes, a teen gets hurt at work.
All first-time workers are vulnerable to work injuries, teens especially so, often because of youthful feelings of invincibility. New workers aren’t yet work hardened. Because they don’t know their limits, they are more susceptible to overexertion, strains, and sprains. Young workers typically aren’t seasoned enough to have good judgement about risks. Eager to make a good impression, they often don’t want to ask for help, question authority, or call attention to themselves in any way.
Most work-related teen deaths occur as the result of motor-vehicles or as a result of machine related accidents. Agriculture has accounted for more than 40% of these fatalities, followed by the wholesale/retail trade, and construction. Frequent nonfatal injuries include lacerations, contusions, abrasions, sprains, or strains. Weather related injuries are also common – sunburns, heat exposure, and the like. The pattern of nonfatal injuries follows the most common types of employment: wholesale/retail and service industries.
Over the month, we’ll follow up with more information on this topic. today, we’d like to address parents, and urge parents (or aunts, uncles, friends) to be proactive about teen worker safety:
Familiarize yourself with child labor laws in your state. Know the hours they can work, and restrictions on the type of work they can do. For example, according to the the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE):

” …by law, your employer must provide protective clothing and equipment necessary for your job, payment for medical expenses if you are injured at work and training in on-the-job safety; and, that on a school day, a 15-year-old is only permitted to work up to three hours a day. Sixteen year-olds are limited to the type of work they can do. For instance, out of these jobs — A. operating a meat slicing machine at a deli counter, B. driving a forklift at a warehouse, C. waiting tables at a restaurant, or D. performing demolition work at a construction site — a 16 year-old is legally only allowed to work waiting tables.

… Teenagers are not allowed to work in mining, logging, meatpacking, roofing, excavation or demolition, according to labor laws. They cannot drive a car or forklift or work with saws, explosives, radioactive materials, or most machines.”

Take a detailed interest in your teen’s work – talk to your child about what they do on the job and talk specifically about safety matters. Ask a lot of questions:
-Do you work alone?
-Who is your supervisor? Is he or she in your work area with you?
-Do you use any equipment or machinery? Have you had training?
– What would you do if…
Trust your instincts – call or visit a workplace before your teen starts work. If you have any misgivings after work starts, follow-up with the boss or the supervisor.
Other resources for parents:
Department of Labor’s Youth & Labor page
OSHA: Do you have a working teen?
Clocking in for Trouble – Teens and Unsafe Work
What teens need to know before going to work
Teen Workers: Avoid 2005’s Five Worst Jobs this Summer
Working the Smart Shift: Helping Parents Help their Teens Avoid Dangerous Jobs
Driving on the Job: New law for teen Workers
Teen Driving Safety
Your Teen at Work: Tips for Parents

Are you covered? Check your flood risk

From New Hampshire to Wisconsin to Maryland, state insurance commissioners throughout the country are urging residents to buy flood insurance. Flood insurance is particularly important as we count down to this year’s hurricane season. Your homeowners insurance may cover you for water damage from a burst pipe, but if your water problem was started by Mother Nature, you are likely out of luck since most policies do not cover flood damage.
While you may think your flood risk is negligible, floods and flash floods happen in all 50 states. Here are a few interesting flood facts you may not know:

  • Your home has a 26% chance of being damaged by a flood during the course of a 30-year mortgage, compared to a 9% chance of fire.
  • Last year, one-third of all claims paid by the National Flood Insurance Program. were for policies in low-risk communities.
  • A car can easily be carried away by just two feet of floodwater.
  • Last year, one-third of all claims paid by the National Fllod Insurance Program were for policies in low-risk communities.
  • Most homeowners insurance does not cover flood damage.

To find out the risk for your home or your business, enter your address to create your flood risk profile and assess your risk of financial loss. Or check your local FEMA flood map. You can also use this interactive tool to see the inch-by-inch cost of a flood in your home – as little as an inch or two of water in your home can add up to thousands of dollars in repair.
Talk to your agent about flood insurance – if you are in a low to moderate risk zone, insurance can be very affordable. Your agent will know the options and will know if your community participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which helps homeowners, renters, and business owners to secure coverage.