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Well, well, well

(104 Posts)
redbunnyfruitcake Fri 28-Jun-13 14:25:01

I've just bought a house with shared access. This is not a problem as such as the neighbour and I have equal access through each others gardens and providing the gate is closed it shouldn't affect my children's safety.

However, our utility room opens out into their garden and we will obviously use this door most of the time for convenience when bringing a pram through. The big problem is that to the side of their house they have a well. It is surrounded by a low wall but I don't yet know if it is covered. For my own sanity I will need to ask them to cover it but I do not know if I have any rights to. And knowing children as I do there will be an inbuilt fascination regarding the well so just telling them not to go near it will not be enough.

This has already given me a few sleepless nights and I have already unwittingly upset the neighbour by accidently blocking her right of way (long story) so I do not want to get into any further strife but for the sake of my children I need to address this well situation. I am a little concerned that the neighbour is a bit difficult and may refuse to cover the well hence my worry.

How do I find out about my rights regarding the well? And AIBU to ask them to cover the well? Any pointers would be helpful.

Pendeen Tue 02-Jul-13 10:24:27


"I live in Italy not the UK, so tahe law might be different. I have two wells. By law I am liable if anybody falls in them, even if they are not supposed to be there"

UK law has similar provisions, as I pointed out to further up the thread - Occupiers Liability Act.

lachrymavitis Sun 30-Jun-13 13:48:21

Bunbaker - I don't think any of the posts have said their don't let their children out of their sight. They have said that it is the parent's responsibility to look after the child first and foremost.

The suggestion from a few is that keeping your door locked so your child cannot go outside without you being aware of it is a sensible step. Children can only open locked doors if they have access to the keys.

wonkylegs Sun 30-Jun-13 11:13:40

I wouldn't expect anybody to have eyes in the back of their heads but you need to do everything in YOUR power to prevent accidents happening.
For the OP it may include talking to their neighbour but they cannot force somebody else to do something or even rely on them to do it. The op can however lock the door and teach their child that they aren't allowed outside by themselves and that wells are dangerous.
It's going to be a combination of prevention and education.
Kids at 4 are wilful and inquisitive but they are also receptive to rules and take and awful lot in especially if repeated over and over consistently and clearly.
You can't rely on this but you can lay the ground rules and foundations for them understanding danger which is the best overall prevention, especially if there are hazards you might not immediately identify but they stumble upon.

grumpyinthemorning Sun 30-Jun-13 10:36:05

OP, I completely sympathize. DS managed to open the front door and make a run for the main road. Scared the life out of me. I'd left him playing in the living room for two minutes while I went to the loo, and next thing I know I'm hoiking up my trousers and running to grab him. I now have so many locks and bolts on my front door that it's more secure than bloody Alcatraz.

My point is, it's not possible to watch them every second, and anyone who thinks it is is talking out their arse. It happened to me, and I only have one, any more would give me a heart attack!

Try to prevent your kids going into their garden if you can, but definitely talk to the neighbours about the well. It could already be covered, and if it's not, it's not unreasonable to suggest it. Hope that helps.

colleysmill Sun 30-Jun-13 09:23:05

If I read it correctly the op doesn't actually know if the well is covered or not so surely the first place to start is asking them. Then that might lead easily into a discussion about covering it if it isn't.

I don't supervise ds all the time but I do in the garden because other than fencing off our stream (which we've done) its the best option (other than moving) to reducing the risk of him falling in. Just as I supervise him when we are out in the village where the stream runs through the centre and its not fenced off. A well atleast can be covered over if it isn't already but who knows - you might find it already is.

It's been an interesting thread for me - dh and I had quite a long discussion about whether we've become a bit laissez faire about it all - sometimes when you live with something you kind of get used to it and the measures we put in place over the years like keeping the kitchen door locked becomes second nature and you forget that you do them and that its not "regular" for other people. maybe we are a little bit laid back about it and that's probably something we should be more careful of becoming.

In the ops case its more difficult because its not on her property - if it was most people would surely just cover it over/fill it in or not buy the house at all. But until you ask the question you won't know.

carlywurly Sun 30-Jun-13 08:48:02

I work in insurance. I would not want a well in my garden with children next door. You need to have a fact finding chat with them and see how the land lies (so to speak)

I'd probably point out their potential liability if all else fails but hopefully an amicable conversation will suffice. And do your best to keep the dcs off their land anyway, nobody wants that intrusion.

Bunbaker Sun 30-Jun-13 08:26:22

Excellent post SnapCackleFlop. Some of the nastier posts have been written by people who either don't have 4 year olds, are perfect parents, stupidly naive or take helicopter parenting to the nth degree.

When DD was 4 I didn't have her in my sight during every hour she was awake. I had to cook meals, go to the loo, hang washing out etc. I don't believe anyone who says they never, ever let their 4 year old out of sight.

sashh Sun 30-Jun-13 07:43:02

As well as the cover (no pun intended) I would arrange with owner for you to all go and look at the well together, to explain how dangerous it is and that no one under the age of 18 is allowed anywhere near it.

4 year olds are curious, but it is better to go with him/her to look and hopefully get over the curiosity.

CarpeVinum Sun 30-Jun-13 06:26:34

I live in Italy not the UK, so tahe law might be different. I have two wells. By law I am liable if anybody falls in them, even if they are not supposed to be there. When we were doing work to replace the pipes that takes white water to them we had to have the builders rig covers overnight that could take the wieght of a full grown man in case a burgular came that night and fell in.

So even if its not on your property your neighbour might be putting him/herself in a potentially finatically diffiuctl postion by not ensuring that the well is covered. Particualry if there is shared access so it is known that other people will pass in that area.

sashh Sun 30-Jun-13 04:55:31

If they are moving could you ask them to remove it and you cover the costs?

Lovelygoldboots Sat 29-Jun-13 23:15:31

You werent a bit rude jack. You slammed into the op for no good reason. Never once has the op asked for an assessment of her parenting skills. She wanted to know if it was reasonable to ask her neighbours to cover the well. Some people think yes, others no. The op can then make up her mind how to deal with the problem.

Nottalotta Sat 29-Jun-13 22:53:19

I'm just wondering what you all do in the summer when its warm? Most people i know have the back door open. Even when the child is old enough to go out of the back door and across neighbours garden to their own garden gate, the well still needs covering. Not covering it and locking the back door day and night (aswell as the front which presumably has access to the great wide world) is just not practical for ever more.

SaucyJack Sat 29-Jun-13 22:18:45

OK, yes, I was a bit rude but that's only because I'm so genuinely baffled at the OP and some of the responses on here that I couldn't bring myself to type a sensible answer.

I just cannot understand why someone who purports to be so concerned for their child's safety that they've been up all night worrying would find it so entirely beyond their responsibility to keep outside doors locked or to supervise young children when playing outside. Is that just not what every other parent does every day as standard without whinging? Regardless of how 'impractical' it is to actually have to parent your child 24/7 or not having 'eyes in the back of your head'.

And what will you do if next door sells the house to someone who covers the well but moves a bad tempered Rottweiler in instead? Demand they have it put to sleep? Serious question btw.

It is down to you to keep your child safe.

quoteunquote Sat 29-Jun-13 12:31:33

when my sister had just turned four, she got up one sunday morning, middle of summer about 5am, quietly slipped downstairs, she found the back door key, unlocked the door difficult enough for an adult, climbed on the kitchen work surface, slid back the top bolt, then the bottom bolt,

she walked across Cambridge, crossing the Cam river and several main roads,

when she got to her friends house her friend let her in and hid her in the utility room,

Friend's mother, discovered her almost at the exact time my parents discovered she was missing.

She and her friend had cooked up the idea the previous day when they were saying goodbye to each other as friend was off on a summer holiday.

My poor parents were really shocked, she normally was a late waker, and noisy the moment she woke jumping on them in bed, and usually it was me who would do a sudden bunk,

children are very unpredictable,

Removing one hazard won't hurt.

Nagoo Sat 29-Jun-13 12:29:35

You are getting ahead of yourself.

Just ask them if you can arrange for them to have it covered.

No one wants a small child to drown in their well.

SnapCackleFlop Sat 29-Jun-13 12:17:53

I think the OP is doing her best in the circumstances - they didn't know about the well when buying the house and are trying their best to make the situation safe when it's far from ideal.

No one plans for their children to be injured - The OP is trying to take all the reasonable steps she can. If telling children not to run off and to stay where you've told them to stay was enough no child would ever get hurt.

There will always be something that you couldn't have forseen and the point is to make what you can as safe as possible. If something happened to a child in these circumstances the op would be ripped to shreds for relying only on telling the child not to approach the danger and not taking steps to make the well as safe as possible.

I think the nastier posts have been really unnecessary. OP hope things get sorted out and hope all goes well with the new baby and new home.

ExcuseTypos Sat 29-Jun-13 12:00:47

Of course you can never be 100% sure.

Hopefully the neighbour is a nice rational person, who will agree to the Op paying for a cover. The Op will I'm sure, teach her dc not to wander into next doors garden, I'm sure she will also keep the door locked when possible, to ensure the dc don't wonder. All of these things should ensure the children are as safe as possible.

Also, every piece of advice I've ever seen, regarding water in a garden, says that if young children have access, you should cover it. Look at NSPCC etc. So it's not just people on MN saying she should do that. It's common, well known advice.

SoupDragon Sat 29-Jun-13 11:22:17

You can't live in permanent worry that someone had forgotten to lock a door or gate when you've got 2 small children.

Then put an alarm on the back door.

There are things you can control (in this situation securing your home and garden) and things you can't (in this case whether the neighbours will/have secured the well).

Also, what if the well cover has failed? What if it is faulty? What if it's damaged? You can have a list of "what ifs" as long as the proverbial piece of string. Being a parent is a permanent worry no matter what safety precautions you take.

The children need to be taught how to keep themselves safe - so don't go in the garden without asking. Don't go near the well. Any other security measures should only be to back this up.

melika Sat 29-Jun-13 10:55:13

LIZS we did check the garden fences and thought it was safe to let him out, we also had a dog too. But the conifers were hiding that one panel had come adrift from the top to the middle and he still got through.

You could not have seen it coming, that is my point, even though you do your best to make it safe there is always something maybe you never thought of.

wonkylegs Sat 29-Jun-13 10:20:17

I'm another one for locking the door and teaching your children of the danger.
How many of us live near busy roads. Substitute 'well' for 'road' and you'll soon see that the suggestion to lock the door and supervise your child isn't so ridiculous.
Ok poster up thread was a bit harsh but she had a point - it is the most immediate and easy solution and the only one you have ultimate control over.

ExcuseTypos Sat 29-Jun-13 10:17:37

To be on the safe side the well should be secured. It is the safest and most logical thing to do. Locking a door or a gate when there is shared access allows for human error to end in tragedy.

You can't live in permanent worry that someone had forgotten to lock a door or gate when you've got 2 small children.

SoupDragon Sat 29-Jun-13 10:04:10

It's no different to putting stairgate up. They are an irritation for adults who want to use the stairs but prevent a child from accessing them.

SoupDragon Sat 29-Jun-13 10:03:03

Soupdragon - the difference is that, in a gated pool it is the object itself that is locked up, rather than the child (and all other people, who need to come and go through that door)

No, access to the item is prevented in both cases. The child is not locked up, they are prevented from having unsupervised access to a dangerous area - in one case a pool, in the other a garden with a hazard in it. No adults are prevented from having access because they can open the door.

Helpyourself Sat 29-Jun-13 09:57:17

Can you access your garden without going out of the utility room?
I can't picture the arrangement.
If you can, I'd lock the utility room outside door and never use it. If not I'd seriously consider pulling out. What's the point of having a garden if the children can't access it safely. If not the well, it'll be people leaving access to the front open.

learnasyougo Sat 29-Jun-13 09:50:35

Soupdragon - the difference is that, in a gated pool it is the object itself that is locked up, rather than the child (and all other people, who need to come and go through that door).

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