Should you get rid of the diving board?

A backyard pool can be a great way to get some exercise, cool off on a hot day, or give your kids a place to have some summertime fun. Homeowners are often willing to accept the extra costs associated with a pool, including a bump up in homeowners insurance and regular maintenance fees, in order to enjoy these benefits.

When it comes to swimming pool features, though, you might want to consider whether it's time to remove the diving board. While it can add to the enjoyment of the pool, it can also result in considerably higher insurance costs.

The reason for this effect is simple: diving boards are associated with a greater risk of injury to those using the pool. While they are situated over deeper water to avoid the serious injuries caused by dives into shallow water, diving boards can still result in a person getting hurt.

According to a 2008 study by Nationwide Children's Hospital, the most common form of diving injury occurs when a person collides with a diving board or platform. This is most likely to occur when they attempt a flip, handstand, or other trick on the diving board, and usually results in lacerations or other soft tissue injuries.

Injuries can occur in other ways as well. Stephanie Booth, writing for Realtor.com, says a person may fall off a ladder while climbing the ladder to a taller diving board. People in the pool can also be hurt if someone accidentally jumps on top of them.

Diving boards have become less common over the years, due to these perceived risks and the potential effects on homeowners insurance. A policy may not cover the costs related to a diving injury, and the insurer may even cancel coverage if such an injury occurs. The LG Insurance Agency of Long Branch, N.J., says insurers may tell a homeowner that they won't qualify for coverage if they do not remove a diving board on their property.

Even if an insurer is not deterred by the diving board, they may require you to pay a higher premium. Booth says a diving board may also prompt you to get an umbrella policy, which enhances your liability coverage but also requires you to pay a few hundred extra dollars per year.

Diving boards have other disadvantages that aren't related to safety. Marcus Sheridan, writing for River Pools of Warsaw, Va., says the deep end necessitated by the feature requires the pool to be longer so the depth can slope down from the shallow end. This can increase the cost of the pool installation, and cause it to take up more yard space. A deep end also reduces the amount of "play area," or pool space where most people can stand with their heads above water to more easily enjoy games like volleyball.

Homeowners may also be disappointed by the diving boards available for swimming pools today. To improve safety and reduce liability, diving boards are more rigid and not as springy as they once were. This may disappoint those who were hoping to enjoy higher jumps into the pool.

If you opt to install or keep a diving board at your pool, you can take some steps to improve its safety. The Insurance Information Institute says the depth of the pool under the diving board should be marked. A list of rules should also be posted nearby.

Children should be educated about how to safely use the diving board. Nationwide Children's Hospital says you should supervise any children at the pool and remove any obstacles from the diving board and surrounding area. Booth says swimmers should not hang off the diving board, jump off the sides, perform tricks, or dive when no one else is around.

Regular maintenance of the diving board can keep it from becoming too slippery or falling into disrepair. The diving board manufacturer Duraflex says you should use fresh water to rinse off the board after heavy use, and scrub it with detergent and hot water once a month. If algae or stains form on the surface, use muriatic acid to remove them. Heavily worn diving boards should be replaced.

Check the diving board stand and handrails for problems as well. These include lubricating any hinges or other moving parts, hosing down surfaces to keep chlorine residue from forming, and using stainless steel cleaner to remove any rust.

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