Accident Prevention at the Pool: Why You Need Safety Fencing
As a pool owner, no doubt one of your biggest concerns is keeping children and pets from entering the pool area unsupervised and getting hurt. All safety experts agree that the top solution you can offer immediately by way of prevention is to install a pool safety fence.
Pool fencing restricts access to the swimming pool when you are not around and, as noted by the safety experts, is one of the best ways that a tragedy can be avoided. All you need to do is to ensure you have your fencing secure and in place. While it is your best bet, it isn’t always as easy as it sounds to complete this project.
Pool fencing needs to be strong and secure above all else. There are a multitude of products on the market today. Everything from wooden, steel, vinyl, aluminum, or glass. You will also want to consider whether you will make yours permanent or removable. Life Saver Pool Fence and Pool Fence DIY have a removable fence with a mesh barrier that is childproof.
Add to this, the fact that depending on where you live, you will need to meet municipal regulations. It is therefore critical that you become familiar with your local requirements for fencing and inspections by calling or visiting your local municipal building department. In many areas your fence will be examined as part of the final pool inspections and it is best to understand your local requirements and inspector opinions so that you pass inspection the first time.
Your homeowners liability insurance company may have fence requirements beyond what your local building codes require, especially if you are in a rural area which does not require building permits and inspections for pools. Having a good safety fence around your pool may lower your homeowners liability insurance cost so the type of fence you install may be something you want to discuss with your insurance broker.
International Building Code (IBC), developed by the International Code Council is the model used by many municipalities for their pool fence codes. Another guide is the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, which published the Safety Barrier Guidelines for Residential Pools - Preventing Child Drownings information.
Typical Pool Fence Requirements
- Pool fences should be at least 48” high from finished ground level
- No more than a 2” gap from the bottom of the fence to the ground
- The fence should block anything more than 4” in diameter from passing through one of its openings
- The fence or barrier must not be climbable
- Pedestrian Pool fence gates must be self-closing, must open outwards from the pool, and must have a self-latching/locking device
- Gates are to swing out away from the pool/spa only. Double swing gates are not permitted. The gate must swing close and latch automatically. The latch is to be located 54 inches high as measured from the bottom of the gate.
- Gates that are not meant for pedestrian use must have a self-latching device
- Chain link fences should have a mesh no larger than 2 1/4 inches unless the fence is provided with privacy slats fastened at the top or bottom which reduce the opening to 1 3/4" or less
- Lattice type fences should have no opening more than 1 3/4 inches between diagonals
Safety Hinges and Latches
This section deserves a fair amount of attention as it is the potential ‘weak link’ in your poolside safety fencing plan. Let’s look at a few tips below:
Make sure your latch is weatherproof (includes winter): latches made from aluminum are ideal. Like all metals, over time, aluminum will corrode gradually, but nowhere near the rate that iron and steel will. Look for an aluminum latch that has also been coated with added weather-resistance.
Select Metal only: On your quest for a secure latch, you will see some nice plastic ones that look really great and cost significantly less. While the temptation is there, don’t be pulled off track. Plastic latches actually succumb to weather exposure worse than metal does. Not only will it oxidize faster than metal, it will also look unseemly in a shorter span of time.
Self-Closing and Self-Latching: Choose a gate that includes self-closing hinges. Pair that gate with a self-latching latch. This is often a required safety feature made to intervene in case human error has one forget to close the gate manually.
Choose your Latch model that can also be secured with a key: For those who are allowed by code and choose not to use a self-closing or latching gate latch, be sure anyway to use a locking pool fence latch. This helps to keep unsupervised children or elderly adults away from any potential danger. Ensure the lock can be both locked and unlocked from both sides of the gate.
Choose a latch that can easily be replaced: If you choose the latch from the same company as the pool fence gate manufacturer, it is probably warrantied to last the same amount of time as the gate itself. But on the chance the latch malfunctions, it should be quickly replaced by the manufacturer if that is needed since the product line is most likely still available.
Some of the popular latch and hinge products are:
- Magna-Latch has child resistant latches with and without alarms.
- LokkLatch® MAGNETIC latch works on solid fences.
- TruClose® Safety Gate Hinges can be used to meet automatic closing requirements.
You have many options regarding your fencing and gate locking selections available. Fencing is the primary way to ensure safety at your pool in combination with other safety measures, such as pool alarms and safety covers. Regardless of these measures, remember that there is no substitute for alert adult supervision, especially whenever children or elderly who need care are poolside.