Installing a pool fence is one of the best things you can do to prevent accidental drowning incidents.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), almost 10 people die on average each day from non-boating related drowning. Two of those 10 are children under the age of 15. In addition, nonfatal drowning incidents can cause severe brain damage. In 2009, more than 30 percent of deaths of children aged 1 to 4 from unintentional injuries were due to drowning, and most of these deaths occurred in home swimming pools.
If you own a swimming pool, you should strongly consider installing an aluminum fence around your pool to prevent unauthorized entry that can lead to accidental death. The CDC states that barriers like pool fencing prevent young children from accessing pools without a caregiver’s awareness.
While it is possible to build a three-sided pool fence while using a structure to complete the barrier, a four-sided fence that isolates the pool area from the house and yard decreases a child’s risk of drowning by 83 percent compared to a three-sided barrier. A three-sided barrier may allow a child to enter the pool area through a door or window, so you should really be putting up a four-sided pool fence.
It’s a Barrier, not a Fence
You can’t just erect a pool fence and assume everyone will then be safe. Kids will be kids. However, a fence can buy you some time if you lose track of a child. When it comes to pool safety, every second can make a difference. Looking at this as a barrier issue rather than just a fence, you are erecting a barrier that children can’t pass through in the absence of an adult, nor can they go under or over it. That means your fence shouldn’t be situated near an object or structure that could aid a child trying to climb over it.
The BOCA Pool Fence Code
Fences enclosing pools are generally held to the BOCA safety code, which is issued by the Building Officials and Code Administrators International, Inc. GreatFence.com sells fence panels that meet this code. Check with your local authorities in any case, as some local governments have more stringent requirements for pool fences.
According to the BOCA code, a pool fence should have a height of 48 inches or greater. You should not be able to pass a sphere with a diameter of 4 inches or more through the barrier. Vertical pickets on your fence should be less than 4 inches apart.
You must have a lockable gate that opens outwards and is self-closing and is self-latching. If a release mechanism is less than 4 feet 6 inches from the bottom of the gate, it must be mounted on the inside, and it can be no less than three inches from the top. You can’t have an opening larger than a half inch that is closer than a foot and a half to the mechanism.
If a building wall forms part of your barrier, you need an audible alarm on any door opening onto the pool area. Those doors must be self-latching and self-closing. The door should open into the building, and any release mechanism should be 4-1/2 feet or higher from the floor.
Finally, pool safety codes differ all over the United States. Some jurisdictions in rural areas have no restrictions. Therefore, it is imperative that you check your local building codes and/or your HOA prior to ordering and installing pool fencing materials.