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Regional Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, June 14, 2007

New rules for pools

By Tyler Schuling

New commercial and residential swimming pools need to have alarms to detect an unsupervised child or pet, or an intruder breaking the water.

The state law was enacted last December to prevent children from drowning. The law applies to all above- or below-ground pools 24 inches deep or deeper that are installed, constructed, or "substantially modified" after Dec. 14, 2006.

According to the state’s Department of State, "Drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury-related deaths in children between the ages of 1 and 14 nationwide, and the third leading cause of injury-related deaths of children in New York."

Depending on the size of a pool, more than one alarm may be needed. The law also includes hot tubs and spas.

"Every pool we build, every pool we sell, has to have an alarm," said Doug Dantrowitz, manager of Concord Pools in Clifton Park. The law stipulates alarms must be meet American Society of Testing Materials standards.

A municipality’s building inspectors or fire departments enforce the law, said Eamon Moynihan, spokesperson for the state’s Department of State.

All pool alarms on the market are not ASTM-certified, Dantrowitz said. One is available for an in-ground pool, and another is available for above-ground pools. Both are made by Poolguard, Dantrowitz said. Concord Pools, which has four locations in the Capital Region, includes the alarm with each pool. "We would never charge more for safety," Dantrowitz said.

An above-ground pool alarm by Poolguard uses a 9-volt battery, which sends out a pulsating sound. The alarm includes a remote receiver to be placed within a home, which also sounds an alarm. It sells for about $125.

Poolguard’s in-ground pool alarm sells for about $190 and works much like the above-ground alarm. It may be put in sleep mode when a pool is in use. Designed for a 20-by-40-foot pool, the alarm will detect "a 1-year-old child weighing 18 pounds and up." A receiver placed indoors has a range of up to 200 feet.

As hurricane season starts
FEMA urges insuring for flood damage

By Melissa Hale-Spencer

ALBANY COUNTY — Floods are the number-one natural disaster in the United States, according to FEMA, yet flood damage is not covered by most homeowner’s insurance.

As hurricane season starts, the Federal Emergency Management Agency is promoting the National Flood Insurance Program.

"Most insurance does not cover flooding," said Leif Skoogfors, a public information officer in FEMA’s Albany office.

"Over 50 percent of flooding is not related to a natural disaster," he said, adding it can be caused, for example, from runoff as a result of development.

"In your county," Skoogfors said of Albany County, "one-half of 1 percent of people who could be flooded have signed up for flood insurance. They’ll basically be out of luck," he said of the other 99.5 percent.

Skoogfors went on to say, "FEMA will help if it’s a big enough disaster. But it takes time and you’ll likely get just a loan."

Most New Yorkers who had property damage from the April nor’easter flooding did not have flood insurance, according to federal and state disaster recovery officials.

Of the over 5,000 people who have registered for assistance in New York State, only 11 percent said they had flood insurance to help cover their losses, according to Marianne Jackson, federal coordinating officer for FEMA.

Unlike with FEMA aid, the National Flood Insurance Program, set up by the federal government in 1968, will "pay you immediately," said Skoogfors.

Subsidized by the federal government, and sold by local insurance agents, it generally costs between $100 and $500 annually, Skoogfors said.

Homeowners, business owners, and renters can purchase flood insurance as long as their community participates in the program. Residents do not have to live in a flood plain to buy the insurance.

Skoogfors advised visiting the FEMA website, www.FloodSmart.gov."You just type in your address and you get an idea of what the risk is," he told The Enterprise.

The site also allows visitors to get an estimate of what the flood insurance policy may cost.

In the past five hurricane seasons, from 2002 to 2006, insured flood losses in New York State totaled more than $137.4 million, according to FEMA. Policies across the state have increased 23 percent in the past year, to nearly 134,000 as of March, 2007. However, New York has more than seven million households, meaning only 2 percent are covered.

In addition to recommending the purchase of flood insurance, FEMA advises:

— Learn your flood risk by visiting FloodSmart.gov;

—Plan for evacuation by practicing a route and asking someone out of state to be a family contact in case of emergency;

— Move important objects and papers to a safe place, storing valuables where they can’t get damaged;

— Conduct a thorough home inventory, documenting belongings in case you need to fill out a flood insurance claim. For more information, visit www.knowyourstuff.org;

— Build an emergency supply kit with food, bottled water, first-aid supplies, medicines, and a battery-operated radio. Visit www.ready.gov for a complete disaster supply checklist; and

— Reduce flood risk through home improvements, lowering the risk of sewer backup, electrical problems, and basement flooding.

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