Turning your house into a home often means filling it with all sorts of fun — yet (unfortunately) potentially dangerous — recreational or architectural items. We'll detail how you can make some of these problematic pieces a bit safer and keep your home feeling like, well, yours.
attractive nuisance definition
Practically everything you need to know about attractive nuisances is right in the name.
"Attractive" in that they're elements you add to your property that ratchet up its fun or style factor. "Nuisance" in that, sadly, they can be potentially dangerous to your family or visitors.
Because they increase others' injury risk (especially kids') and your liability, attractive nuisances are some of the main items that increase homeowners insurance rates. Luckily, by knowing some of the usual suspects that insurers are wary of, you can plan ahead and make your home safer and more wallet-friendly, without sacrificing its character in the process.
If you're ever unsure about what's included in your Esurance policy, call on our agents at 1-800-ESURANCE (1-800-378-7262) to make sure there are no gaps in your coverage.
5 common attractive nuisance examples (and how to reduce risks)
Before you toss your trampoline and fill in your pool, wait — here are some ways to make common attractive nuisances more kid- and insurance-friendly.
1. Swimming pools
Even if you don't have children of your own, you're typically still responsible for the protection of people on your property. If a neighbor's kid could potentially get into your yard, take an unsupervised dip in your pool and drown, you could be sued for negligence.
Unfortunately, even a sign to the effect of "swim at your own risk" doesn't kid-proof your pool; children too young to read the sign could still be injured.
Safety tips: Fencing in your pool (preferably a non-climbable fence with a lockable gate) or using a safety cover is a smart idea. It's wise to take safety precautions, even if they're not guaranteed to protect your liability — you're likely still liable if someone gets into your pool and is injured without your knowledge or consent.
2. Fountains and ponds
Much like a swimming pool, a fountain or pond on your property is likely to attract children, particularly if either contains fish or foliage.
Safety tips: As for having a pond in the first place, you should check your local building codes. Some might require you to have a fence if your pond is more than 3 inches deep. Building a fence around your pond or creating an attractive barrier with rocks high enough to keep children from falling in are good ways to help danger-proof a pond.
A fountain could benefit from an alarm that floats on the surface of the water and makes a high-pitched sound if something (or someone) falls in. While it poses a problem if you have fish swimming around, a water safety specialist should be able to help you find a solution.
3. Playground equipment
Over 200,000 children visit the emergency room every year because of playground injuries, most commonly from falling onto dirt or grass. While swing sets, slides, and jungle gyms are meant for kids to play on, they're not injury-proof.
Safety tips: A simple fix for a much safer playground at home is installing a shock-absorbing surface (at least 6 feet away from playground equipment in all directions). If your playground equipment is up to 7 feet high, make sure to use at least 9 inches of mulch, shredded rubber, or wood chips. For playground equipment up to 5 feet high, consider installing at least a 9-inch layer of sand or pea gravel.
In addition to giving your playground a safer surface, nothing beats plain old supervision and age-appropriate playground equipment.
4. Tree houses
Even if your tree house is as meticulously outfitted and well-kept as your own house, it's likely a liability issue — for you, adventurous guests, and even trespassers. And unfortunately, well-intended banisters and railings won't necessarily keep someone from falling from a great height.
Safety tips: Some of the inherent dangers posed by having a tree house on your property can be mitigated if you post a list of safety rules, such as steering clear of the tree house during bad weather (like thunderstorms or hail), limiting the number of kids at any given time, and set quiet hours. (Of course, you'll need to check on the local laws for building a tree house on your property in the first place!)
You might also consider putting together a pulley system so items can be transferred to and from the tree house (probably in a bucket) easily. That way, you don't need to haul stuff up and down on your back. Also remember when building your tree house that wooden ladders are more secure than rope ladders, and you should constantly be checking for loose or rotten parts of the tree and similarly decaying or loose wooden boards.
Depending on the safety measures put in place for your trampoline, your home insurer may not even provide coverage for a trampoline. That means children wouldn't be covered in the event of any medical or legal bills. You should check on the specifics of your coverage with your insurance company.
Safety tips: A good way to keep a child from getting injured on your trampoline is to impose age restrictions. No one wants a game of "look how high I can go" to turn into a trip to the hospital.
You could also consider protective measures like pads covering any trampoline springs, a netted enclosure that covers all sides, and — this one's for any rogue neighborhood kids — a completely fenced-in yard with a gate that locks.
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