Cottage season is upon us. This is a time where many Nova Scotians escape their busy lives. Spending their weekends surrounded by simplicity and indulging in many summer activities at the cottage.
Cottage life, however, comes with its own problems and responsibilities that owners should keep in mind.
The Nova Scotia Occupiers Liability Act imposes a duty on the occupier. The Occupier (owner of the cottage) is responsible for the conditions of the cottage and the activities conducted there. Meaning, they must take reasonable care “that each person entering the premises and the property brought on the premises by that person, are reasonably safe while on the premises”.
This includes the conditions of the cottage itself, and common cottage activities, such as fishing, swimming, boating, hunting, bonfires, or setting off fireworks.
The following are some tips to keep in mind that will help ensure that you and your guests have a safe and enjoyable summer at the cottage.
Mind the hazards
Make sure you are aware of any potential hazards on the premises, such as a slippery surface, or a loose deck board. Warn your guests and have appropriate warning signs by each of these hazards. Be sure to barricade any areas that are dangerous to ensure people do not enter.
A standard policy that covers your cottage will not necessarily cover water crafts on the premises. There are many types of insurance available for your recreational water craft. These depend on a variety of factors such as the type of boat/craft, location of use, and frequency of use. Depending on where you use your water craft and for what purpose, liability insurance is always a good idea!
Those boating should always wear a life jacket. There should be an appropriate level of experience and supervision of those taking out a water craft. Water crafts that require a license should not be operated by those that do not have a license. Water crafts should not be operated while intoxicated and/or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Swimming poses serious risks, particularly to those that consider themselves strong swimmers. As they are typically less cautious of the water and tend to take more risks, they at a high risk of injury or drowning. Visitors should be aware of how deep the water is if the property is water front. If the water is shallow, or there are hazards below the surface, a sign that warns your family and guests not to dive or jump off the deck would help keep your loved ones injury-free.
In general, there are many activities one does at the cottage without thinking of the potential hazards or injuries that could occur. Cottage goers and occupiers should be aware of their surroundings, particularly when participating in activities that pose potential harm to themselves or others.
Occupiers can avoid liability by having proper insurance coverage, appropriately cautioning their guests of potential dangers and hazards in the premises, and ensuring proper supervision and an enjoyable cottage season!