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Fences: swimming pools

Swimming Pools - Safety First!
Traditional 2-rail ornamental picket fence

Safety First!

Almost any well-built fence will protect a swimming pool, but we recommend several features for the safety of your family and others who approach your pool, whether invited or not.

Height. The U. S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends minimum of 4', but hopes that pool owners will choose fences 5' in height. For newly constructed pools and spas, many municipal codes/laws require only a 4' high fence completely around the pool, but this is changing. There are no height requirements for fencing that goes completely around older pools/spas, so pool owners must educate themselves and voluntarily make a wise choice for a taller fence. Fences that go around the outer edge of yards may fall under different codes than for pools, so check with your local building department regarding proper heights.

Smooth bottom. Some chainlink fencing is made with a sharp twist at the bottom. This can cause injuries to feet when they get caught under the fence. We use smoothly woven, or "knuckled" chainlink. Since young children sometimes climb chainlink, the mesh size should be no more than 1-1/2" square. Vertical slats can be used through the openings to cut the wind and provide privacy.

Self-closing hinges and latches are required in many municipalities. A good supplier of these is Tru Close.

Layout. Your pool should be closed off on all four sides, as in the photo. Allowing free access to the pool from the house presents a danger to small children who may fall in the pool and drown. The fence is your first line of defense. Make sure that fences are unclimbable and gates are closed after every use.

Power safety covers are a second safeguard. Be sure the cover is closed immediately after maintenance, as accidents can happen even in a short time while the pool is exposed.

Door alarms are a third protective device, alerting you when any door to the pool area is opened.

You can download an excellent, free, four-page publication from the U. S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, entitled "How to plan for the unexpected: Preventing Child Drownings."

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