This will sound absurd, but I promise this is a genuine question. I'm researching a method of home climate control in snowy climates, that involves enveloping a copper heatsink around a sheath of snow. The heatsink itself is by function, basically a spiked ball, with blade like protrusions all across it's circumference to maximize surface area, which are designed to be enveloped entirely by snow in order to be effective.

The problem is that I live in a suburb with rowdy kids. I don't want to see any of them learn a lesson the hard way (mostly because I'd get sued for teaching it) so I also plan to surround the snowball with a fence and warning placards, about the same as one should do with a swimming pool. This should deter small children, but I fear teenagers will defeat these measures and kick the snowman anyway. (My daughter insists that I "complete the look" and really, it doubt it would make a difference if it were a Snowball or a Snowman)

I am wondering, what protections/wards can I put in place so that I would not be liable should a teenager or child decide to defeat them and skewer their foot on my experiment?

  • I suspect your question is answered within this answer.
    – feetwet
    Commented Dec 19, 2015 at 2:41
  • 2
    How large are you talking here? And why can't it be positioned on a roof where it can not be accessed at all by casual trespassers? And why must it look like a snowman (just to satisfy your child)? Is that similar to "drive faster, daddy... no faster.. no faster!!" at some point the child's desires are unwise..
    – Scott
    Commented Dec 19, 2015 at 3:26
  • 1
    @feetwet wouldn't attractive nuisance also come into play?
    – phoog
    Commented Dec 19, 2015 at 6:06
  • 2
    I would be at least equally concerned about securing a lump of pure copper fron metal salvagers. The burglary of exterior HVAC condensers, copper flashing, etc increased dramatically in the recession in every area of the country. Securing or camouflage against burglary should also secure it from teen curiosity.
    – user662852
    Commented Dec 19, 2015 at 12:52
  • 1
    @phoog - Yes, as described this does sound like it meets the definition of an "attractive nuisance!"
    – feetwet
    Commented Dec 19, 2015 at 17:34

3 Answers 3


No one can tell you how the facts are going to line up if you get sued. The attractive nuisance doctrine is alive and you can be found liable if you have, on your property, a dangerous condition which is attractive to children, especially if the danger is not appreciable to the child. Now, I'm a bit skeptical that a child would climb a fence to kick snow, especially if there is other snow outside the fence for them to kick, but stranger things have happened.

What can you do? These are ideas, I don't think they are legal advice. Start with the premise that dangerous stuff happens everyday, and kids aren't getting hurt by most of it.

  1. Use a fence with barbed wire. In other words, injured the the child with a lesser injury to reduce your liability.
  2. Use an opaque fence. Granted, curiosity might be too great and a child will trespass to discover what you are hiding.
  3. Use a shed, just one of those thin aluminum structures.
  4. Include proximity sensors to set off alarms and lights and whatever.
  5. Get your project away from kids; find space in a commercial area.
  • It appears that this construction is intended to be used out in the open. In that respect, placing it in a insulating shed, even if it's just thin aluminum, seems counterproductive.
    – Nzall
    Commented Apr 20, 2022 at 13:34

Design your heat sink so that if somebody kicks it, they find it harder than expected but don't get cut/impaled. For example, instead of a ball with large spikes, consider a coiled pipe or non-sharp fins like old radiators, or a design like a golf ball or colander so that it'll be easier to load in new snow when the heat transferred from this device melts the snow in direct contact with it.

Then look at the rules for what happens when people build snowmen around rocks, logs, etc. as you'll have reduced the danger to equal something a little more common in residential landscapes.


Fence over the top as well. Keep it locked at all times when not under your immediate control/presence. Problem solved.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .