FACT: In California, Arizona, and Florida drowning was the leading cause of accidental death in and around the home for children under 5 years of age.
A pool can offer many years of family fun and entertainment provided your pool setting has been properly fenced in for the safety of your children. Unfortunately children drown every year from entering pools that are not secure. These drownings, however, are completely preventable. It only takes a few simple measures to make sure that your pool is completely child safe. Following please find fence-depot.com's recommendations which utilize our twenty years of experience in the fence industry. Our findings are based on experience and go hand in hand with those recommendations set forth by such agencies as the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Foundation for Aquatic Injury Prevention.
Following please find our simple 5 step guide which will assist you in making your pool a safe place for children and pets.
Safety Barrier Guidelines for Home Pools:
STEP 1: Consult with your local building department or zoning office for a list of the most up to date codes for swimming pool settings. It is here that you will find the codes which are enforced in your area. If there are no codes in place you may refer to publications issued by the U.S Consumer Product Safety Commission Washington, DC or read on for our recommendations!
STEP 2: Select the right pool fence using the following guidelines. The right fence will prevent a child from gaining access to your pool. It will prevent a child from getting over, under, or through your barrier. We recommend selecting a fence that you can see through and avoiding any type of solid partition of any kind. Visibility is key in locating your child.
a) Recommended overall height of fencing: Make sure that your fence is at least 4 foot in height. 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. Your fence system should have no foot or handholds that could help a young child to climb it.
b) Recommended spacing or openings between pickets: Openings in the fence section should not allow passage of a 4 inch diameter sphere. This spacing has been set forth to prevent a child from squeezing their head and body through a fence.
*For fences made up of horizontal and vertical members: If the distance between the tops of the horizontal members and bottom 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. This width has been presented as a precaution to reduce the potential for a child to gain a foothold on the fence system. If you select a fence with decorative cutouts, the cutout should not exceed 1-3/4 inches.
c) Recommendations for the distance between the tops of the horizontal members and bottom horizontal members of your fence system and recommended spacing of such fence: If the distance between the tops of the horizontal members and bottom horizontal members is 45 inches or greater, the horizontal members can be on the side of the fence facing away from the pool. The spacing between the vertical members should not exceed 4 inches. This recommendation is based on the head girth and chest depth of a young child. This reference is intended to prevent a child from passing through an opening. Decorative cutouts should be limited to a span not to exceed 1-3/4.
STEP 3: Preventing a Child from Getting Under Your Pool Fence: The recommended maximum clearance at the bottom of the fence states that it should not exceed 4 inches above the grade of your land. This measurement should be taken on the side of the fence which faces away from the pool.
STEP 4: Child Proof Gates and Latching Devices: Preventing a child from entering into a pool is simply done by selecting gates that restrict access to the pool. When selecting a gate keep in mind that it should match the protocol set forth previously in steps 1, 2, and 3.
a) Pool area gates should open out and must be self -closing and self- latching. The proper locking mechanism must be included in the gate design. If a gate 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 latching device.
b) Pool area gates and release mechanisms: Set all release mechanisms of the self-latching device 3 inches below the top of the gate on the side of the fence which faces the pool. This recommendation is set forth for fencing which is less than 54 inches in height measuring from the bottom of the gate. Placing the release mechanism at this height will prevent a young child from reaching over the top of a gate to disengage the latching device.
*Keep in mind that the gate of the fence should have no opening greater that ½ inch within 18 inches of the latch release mechanism. This prevents a young child from reaching in through the gate and will prevent him from releasing the latching mechanism.
STEP 5: Double Check: After selecting the proper fence and gate system for your application double check your options with these simple questions;
* Can a child sneak under the fence?
* Can a child climb or jump over the fence?
* Can a child get through the fence?
* Can a child disengage my gate locking system?
* What back up system is needed to prevent entry into my pool?
Other Suggested Safety Recommendations to Secure Your Pool Setting:
A) Consider an alarm system for all exit doors leading to your pool: Place an alarm system on all exit doors which provide access to the pool. There are numerous companies which can assist you in placing an audible alarm warning buzzer which will sound off if any doors have been exited. This type of system can serve as an excellent back up to your fence system. The alarm should sound for 30 seconds or more within 7 seconds after the door is opened.
B) Install a child safe pool cover. The proper cover should be in place when the pool is not in use. Select a cover that can easily accommodate the weight of an adult.
C) Install Life Saving Equipment at Pool Side. Check with your local pool company or Red Cross agency for life saving equipment.
D) Remove toys from the pool when it is not in use.
E) Never prop open the gates to the pool.