Safety Guidelines for Home Pools

ORDER HOME INSPECTION NOW or CALL – TEXT 940-390-4083

Swimming pools should always be happy places.  Unfortunately, each year thousands of American families confront swimming pool  tragedies, drownings and near-drownings of young children. At InterNACHI, we  want to prevent these tragedies. These are guidelines for pool barriers that can  help prevent most submersion incidents involving young children. These  guidelines are not intended as the sole method to minimize pool drowning of  young children, but include helpful safety tips for safer pools.pool

Each year, hundreds of young children die and  thousands come close to death due to submersion in residential swimming pools.  The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has estimated that each year,  about 300 children under the age of 5 drown in swimming pools. Hospital  emergency-room treatment is required for more than 2,000 children under 5 who  were submerged in residential pools. The CPSC did an extensive study of swimming  pool accidents, both fatal drownings and near-fatal submersion, in California,  Arizona and Florida — states in which home swimming pools are very popular  and used during much of the year.

  • In California, Arizona and Florida,drowning was the leading cause of  accidental death in and around  the home for children under the  age of 5.
  • Seventy-five percent of the children involved in  swimming pool submersion or drowning accidents were between 1 and 3 years  old.
  • Boys between 1 and 3 were the most  likely victims of fatal drownings and near-fatal submersions in residential  swimming pools.
  • Most of the victims were in the  presence of one or both parents when the swimming pool accident  occurred.
  • Nearly half of the child victims  were last seen in the house before the pool accident occurred. In addition, 23%  of the accident victims were last seen on the porch or patio, or in the  yard.
  • This means that 69% of the children  who became victims in swimming pool accidents were not expected to be in or at  the pool, but were found drowned or submerged in the water.
  • Sixty-five percent of the accidents occurred in a pool  owned by the victim’s immediate family, and 33% of the accidents occurred  in pools owned by relatives or friends.
  • Fewer than 2% of the pool accidents  were the result of children trespassing on property where they didn’t live  or belong.
  • Seventy-seven percent of the swimming pool accident  victims had been missing for five minutes or less when they were found in the  pool, drowned or submerged.
The speed with which swimming pool drownings  and submersion can occur is a special concern: by the time a child’s absence is  noted, the child may have drowned. Anyone who has cared for a toddler knows how  fast young children can move. Toddlers are inquisitive and impulsive, and lack a  realistic sense of danger. These behaviors, coupled with a child’s ability to  move quickly and unpredictably, make swimming pools particularly hazardous for  households with young children.
Swimming pool drownings of young children have another particularly  insidious feature: these are silent deaths. It  is unlikely that splashing or  screaming will occur to alert a parent or caregiver  that achild is in trouble.The best way to reduce child drownings in residential pools is for pool owners to construct and maintain barriers that prevent young children from gaining access to pools.However, there are no substitutes for  diligent supervision.

Why the Swimming Pool Guidelines Were  Developed

Young child can get over a pool barrier if the barrier is too low, or if the barrier has handholds or footholds for a child to use for climbing.  The guidelines recommend that the top of a pool barrier be at least 48 inches  above grade, measured on the side of the barrier which faces away from the  swimming pool. Eliminating handholds and footholds, and minimizing the size of  openings in a barrier’s construction, can prevent inquisitive children from  climbing pool barriers.
For a solid barrier,no indentations or protrusions should be present, other than normal construction tolerances and masonry joints. For a barrier  (fence) made up of horizontal and vertical members, if the distance between the tops of the horizontal members is less than 45 inches, the horizontal members should be on the swimming pool-side of the fence. The spacing of the vertical members should not exceed 1-3/4 inches. This size is based on the foot-width of a young child, and is intended to reduce the potential for a child to gain a foothold. If there are any decorative cutout sin the fence, the space within the cutouts should not exceed 1-3/4 inches.
The definition of pool includes spas and hot  tubs. The swimming pool-barrier guidelines, therefore, apply to  these structures, as well as to conventional swimming  pools.
How to Prevent a Child from Getting OVER a Pool  Barrier
A successful pool barrier prevents a child from getting  OVER,UNDER or THROUGH,  and keeps the child from  gaining access to the pool  except when supervising adults  are present.
The Swimming Pool-Barrier  Guidelines
If the distance between the tops  of the horizontal members is  more than 45 inches, the horizontal members can be on the side of the fence facing away from the pool. The spacing between vertical members should not exceed 4 inches.This size is based on the head-breadth and chest  depth of ayoung child, and is  intended to prevent a child from  passing through an opening.  Again, if there are any  decorative cutouts in the fence,  the space within the cutouts  should not exceed 1-3/4 inches.poolman

For a chain-link fence, the mesh size should not  exceed 1-1/4 inches square, unless slats fastened at the top or bottom of the  fence are used to reduce mesh openings to no more than 1-3/4 inches.

For a fence made up of diagonal members(lattice work),the maximum opening in the lattice should not exceed1-3/4 inches.
Above-ground pools should have barriers. The  pool structure itself can sometimes serves as a barrier, or a barrier can  be mounted on top of the pool structure. Then, there are two possible ways  to prevent young children from climbing up into an above-ground pool. The steps  or ladder can be designed to be secured, locked or removed to prevent access, or  the steps or ladder can be surrounded by a barrier, such as those described  above. For any pool barrier, the maximum clearance at the bottom of the barrier  should not exceed 4 inches above grade, when the measurement is done on the side  of the barrier facing away from the pool. If an above-ground pool  has a barrier on the top of the pool, the maximum vertical clearance between the  top of the pool and the bottom of the barrier should not exceed 4 inches.  Preventing a child from getting through a pool barrier can be done by  restricting the sizes of openings in a barrier, and by using self-closing and  self-latching gates.
To prevent a young child from getting through a fence or other barrier, all openings should be small enough so that a 4-inch diameter sphere cannot pass through. This size is based on the head- breadth and chest-depth of a young child.
Gates

There are two kinds of gates which might be found  on a residential property. Both can play a part in the design of a swimming pool  barrier.

Pedestrian gates are the  gates people walk through.  Swimming pool barriers should be  equipped with a gate or gates  which restrict access to the  pool. A locking device should  be included in the gate’s  design.Gates should open out  from the pool and should be  self-closing and self-latching.  If agate is properly designed,  even if the gate is not  completely latched, a young child pushing on the gate in order to enter the pool area will at least close the gate and may actually engage the latch.When the release mechanism of the self-latching device is less than 54 inches from the bottom of the gate,the release mechanism for the gate should be at least 3 inches below the top of the gate on the side facing the pool.Placing the release  mechanism at this height  prevents a youngchild from  reaching over thetop of a gate  and releasing the latch.Also, the gate and  barrier should have no  opening greater than 1/2-inch  within18 inches of the latch  release mechanism. This prevents  a young child from  reaching through the gate and  releasing the  latch.

Other gates should be equipped with  self-latching devices. The self-latching devices should be installed as  described for pedestrian gates.

How to Prevent a Child from Getting  UNDER or THROUGH a Pool Barrier
In many homes, doors open directly onto the  pool area or onto a patio which leads to the pool. In such cases, the wall of  the house is an important part of the pool barrier, and passage through any  doors in the house wall should be controlled by security measures. The  importance of controlling a young child’s movement from the house to the pool is  demonstrated by the statistics obtained during the CPSC’s study of pool  incidents in California, Arizona and Florida. Almost half (46%) of the children  who became victims of pool accidents were last seen in the house just before  they were found in the pool.
All doors which give access to a swimming pool should be equipped with an audible alarm which sounds when the door and/or screen are opened. The alarm should sound for 30 seconds or more within seven seconds after the door is opened.  It should also be loud,at least 85 decibels,when measured 10 feet away from the alarm mechanism.The alarm sound should be distinct from other sounds in the house, such as the telephone,doorbell and smoke alarm. The alarm should have an automatic re-set feature.Because adults will want to pass through house doors in the pool barrier without setting off the alarm, the alarm should have a switch that allows adults to temporarily De-activate the alarm for up to 15seconds. The De-activation switch could be a touch pad(keypad) or a manual switch,and should be located at least54 inches above the threshold of the door covered by the alarm. This height was selected based on the reaching ability of young children.
Power safety covers can be installed on pools  to serve as security barriers. Power safety covers should conform to the  specifications in ASTM F 1346-91. This standard specifies safety performance  requirements for pool covers to protect young children from drowning.  Self-closing doors with self-latching devices could also be used to safeguard  doors which give ready access to a swimming pool.
Indoor Pools
When a pool is located completely within a house,  the walls that surround the  pool should be equipped to serve  as pool safety barriers.  Measures recommended above where  a house wall serves as part of  a safety barrier also apply for  all the walls surrounding  anindoor  pool.
poolkidGuidelines
An outdoor swimming  pool, including an in-ground, above-ground,  or on-ground pool,hot tub, or  spa, should be provided with a barrier which complies with the following:
1. The top of the barrier should be at least 48  inches above grade, measured on the side of the barrier which faces away from  the swimming pool. The maximum vertical clearance between grade and the bottom  of the barrier should be 4 inches measured on the side of the barrier which  faces away from the swimming pool. Where the top of the pool structure is above  grade, such as an above-ground pool, the barrier may be at ground level, such as  the pool structure, or mounted on top of the pool structure. Where the barrier  is mounted on top of the pool structure, the maximum vertical clearance between  the top of the pool structure and the bottom of the barrier should be 4 inches.
2. Openings in the barrier should  not allow passage of a 4-inch  diameter sphere.
3. Solid barriers, which do not have openings,  such as a masonry and stone wall, should not contain indentations or  protrusions, except for normal construction tolerances and tooled masonry  joints.
4. Where the barrier is composed  of horizontal and vertical  members, and the distance between the tops of the horizontal members is less than 45 inches, the  horizontal members should be located on the swimming pool-side of the fence.  Spacing between vertical members should not exceed 1-3/4 inches in width. Where  there are decorative cutouts, spacing within the cutouts should not exceed 1-3/4  inches in width.
5. Where the barrier is composed of horizontal  and vertical members, and the distance between the tops of the horizontal  members is 45 inches or more, spacing between vertical members should not exceed  4 inches. Where there are decorative cutouts, spacing within the cutouts should  not exceed 1-3/4 inches in width.
6. The maximum mesh size for  chain-link fences should not  exceed 1-3/4 inch square, unless  the fence is provided with slats  fastened at the top or the bottom which reduce the openings to no more than 1-3/4 inches.
7. Where the barrier is composed of diagonal  members, such as a lattice fence, the maximum opening formed by the diagonal  members should be no more than 1-3/4 inches.
8. Access gates to the pool  should be equipped to accommodate a locking device. Pedestrian access gates should open outward, away from the pool,and should be self-closing and have a  self-latching device. Gates  other than pedestrian access  gates should have a self-latching device, where the release mechanism of the self-latching device is located less than 54 inches from the bottom of the gate.
  • The release mechanism should be located on the pool-side of  the gate at least 3 inches below  the top of the gate.
  • The gate and barrier should have no  opening greater than 1/2-inch within 18 inches of the release mechanism.

9. Where a wall of a dwelling serves as part of  the barrier, one of the following should apply:

  • All doors with direct access to the  pool through that wall should be  equipped with an alarm which  produces an audible warning when  the door and its screen, if present,are opened. The alarm should sound continuously for a minimum of 30 second swithin seven seconds after the door is opened. The alarm should have a minimum sound pressure rating of 85 dBA  at10 feet, and the sound of the  alarm should be distinctive from  other house hold sounds, such as  smoke alarms, telephones and  doorbells. The alarm should automatic allure-set under all conditions. The alarm should be equipped with manual means, such as touch pads or switches, to temporarily De-activate the alarm for a single opening of the door from either direction.Such De-activation should last for  no more than 15 seconds. The  De-activation touch pads or  switches should be located at least 54 inches above the threshold of the door.
  • The pool should be equipped with a  power safety cover which complies with ASTM F1346-91.
  • Other means of protection, such as  self-closing doors with self-latching devices, are acceptable as long as  the degree of protection afforded is not less than the protection afforded by  the above.
10. Where an above-ground pool structure is  used as a barrier, or where the barrier is mounted on top of the pool structure,  and the means of access is a ladder or steps, then:
  • The ladder to the pool or steps should be capable of being  secured,locked or removed to  prevent access.
  • The ladder or steps should be  surrounded by a  barrier. When the ladder or steps are secured, locked, or removed,any opening created should not allow the passage of a 4-inch diameter sphere.
These guidelines are intended to provide a means of  protection against potential drownings of children under 5 years of age by  restricting access to residential swimming pools, spas and hot tubs.
Exemptions
A portable spa with a safety cover which  complies with ASTM F1346-91 should be exempt from the guidelines presented  here. Swimming pools, hot tubs, and non-portable spas with safety covers should  not be exempt from these provisions.

ORDER HOME INSPECTION NOW or CALL – TEXT 940-390-4083