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Is something on my property an attractive nuisance?

With summer upon us, children will be outside looking for things to do. While playing in the sunshine is certainly better than being cooped up indoors playing video games, some of the things children encounter in their neighborhoods can threaten their safety. You and other Missouri residents should understand the attractive nuisance doctrine, which may protect children on your street from dangers and protect yourself from legal action.

According to FindLaw, an attractive nuisance is a feature on someone’s personal property that proves interesting to children, but may also be dangerous.

What is an attractive nuisance?

Attractive nuisances can take many forms, but the most common is a swimming pool. Nothing can be more enticing to children on a hot summer day than a cool, sparkling pool. What is to stop children from taking a swim in your pool while you are at work if your gate is open or you do not have a fence around your pool?

Other attractive nuisances you may have on your property can include a well, water fountain or tunnel. You might have a deep pit in the back of your property meant for garbage, a riding lawn mower that looks like fun or sharp power tools.

What are my responsibilities?

The most effective way to prevent neighborhood kids from sustaining injuries and to protect your personal property is to make it inaccessible to children. Install a high fence around your yard or swimming pool and keep it locked. Securely cover wells and trenches on your property. Do not leave the keys in your riding mower and keep power tools and other dangerous equipment in a locked shed.

If you have reason to believe anything that is potentially hazardous on your property can lure children over to investigate, you have a responsibility to take reasonable measures to discourage them from having access. The same is true for your neighbors if you have children. You may be eligible for compensation if your children suffer harm when a neighbor fails to safeguard an attractive nuisance.