Safety and Your Swimming Pool Fence
It’s easy to install your own pool fence, but remember that your DIY pool fence has an additional function beyond that of other fences. You want your fence to look good, and you often seek security. However, a pool fence has one additional function, and that is to prevent people from entering the area and possibly drowning. This especially applies to children.
Kids love swimming, but pools don’t always love them. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), about 390 children younger than 15 died from drowning in swimming pools and spas in 2012. Almost 300 of them were younger than years old.
Pool Safety Considerations
Any barrier can be compromised. Don’t think of your pool fence as an impermeable barrier. You still need to watch the kids, but a fence or other barrier can give you a bit more time to find a child before something untoward occurs. The CPSC states that a barrier must keep a child from getting over, under or through when an adult is not present.
Don’t erect a barrier near a structure or an object that someone could use to help climb over the barrier. It’s best not to use a structure as one side of a barrier, especially if one can enter the pool area through a door or even a window.
The BOCA Code
Pool fencing is usually constructed to meet the code published by the Building Officials and Code Administrators International, Inc. (BOCA). The BOCA swimming pool code is designed to enhance the safety of your pool enclosure. GreatFence.com makes it easy for you by selling pool fence materials that meet the BOCA code. Nevertheless, be sure to consult your local government, which might have additional requirements.
In brief, here are some of the highlights of the BOCA pool fence code.
The top of your DIY pool fence should be at least 48 inches above the ground, although it’s worth noting that the CPSC recommends a 5-foot high barrier. A 4-inch-diameter sphere should not be able to pass through the barrier. You must have 45 inches of free (VERTICAL) space between the horizontal members of the panel or gate. This is required to make it difficult for a child to use the fence/gate as a ladder and climb over the barrier.
Gates should conform to the same standards as fence panels, and they must be lockable. The gate should open outwards from the pool area, and it should be self-closing and self-latching. If the release mechanism of a self-latching device is less than 54 inches from the gate’s bottom, it must be located on the inside of the gate—the pool side—at least three inches below the top of the gate. Also, there should be no opening in the gate that is greater than a half inch within 18 inches of the mechanism.
Building Walls as Part of a Pool Enclosure
There are specific requirements when you use a wall of a dwelling as part of the enclosure and the dwelling has a door leading to the pool area.
Any door leading to the pool must have an audible alarm. Consult the BOCA code for specific requirements. Doors leading to the pool should be self-closing and self-latching, just like the gate. The release mechanism must be at least 54 inches from the floor, and the door must open away from the pool area.