Although ponds on farms and ranches across the country serve a variety of functions, such ponds can also be a source of danger and liability. Victims of all ages, most typically small children, have drowned in farm ponds. Unsupervised children with little or no swimming instruction may play too close to the water’s edge and lose their balance. The dangers of ponds are not limited to children or those who cannot swim; other dangers are hidden in and beneath the water. Ponds may be contaminated by field runoff containing agricultural fertilizers, pesticides, livestock waste, and other pollutants that pose health concerns. Additional hazards in farm ponds include sharp rocks, animal bones, broken bottles, and other types of debris that can cause cuts and injuries.
As a pond owner, you should restrict pond use to invited guests only. In addition, take the following actions to minimize the dangers and liability associated with each pond on your farm or ranch:
Following the above safety recommendations can reduce your risk of an incident, but despite taking appropriate precautions, you may still face liability should a drowning or other incident occur in your pond. Contact your insurance agent to discuss liability insurance coverage related to your pond.
Farm pond safety. (2012) Farm and Ranch eXtension in Safety and Health (FReSH) Community of Practice. Retrieved from http://www.extension.org/pages/63139/farm-pond-safety.
Bean, T. (2008) Farm pond safety. Ohio State University Extension. Retrieved from http://ohioline.osu.edu/aex-fact/pdf/0390.pdf.
Murphy, D. and Steel, S. (1995) Farm pond safety. The Pennsylvania State University College of Agricultural Sciences. Retrieved from www.agsafety.psu.edu/factsheets/E27.pdf.
Training module: Farm pond safety. (2003) The Ohio State University Agricultural Tailgate Safety Training. Retrieved from http://ohioline.osu.edu/atts/PDF-English/Pond-Safety.pdf.
Willcutt, H. (2002) Farm pond safety. Mississippi State University Extension Service. Retrieved from http://msucares.com/pubs/publications/p1098.pdf.