According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CSPC), there are about 300 drowning deaths of children younger than 5 each year in swimming pools. Most of the victims had been missing for 5 minutes or less when they were found. Precious time is often wasted looking for missing children anywhere but in the pool. Since every second counts, always look for a missing child in the pool or spa first.
Many municipalities require fences around swimming pools to reduce the risk of swimming pool accidents and deaths. From a legal standpoint, the pool and fence must meet any and all code requirements. Property line fencing is often mandatory to protect neighborhood children from accessing the pool. The reality, however, is that perimeter fencing is inadequate at providing a secure barrier. U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) found that fewer than two percent of all drowning victims were trespassers; more than 98 percent of child swimming pool drowning victims were living at or guests at the house with the pool.
In addition to a perimeter fence, a fence between a home and the pool is recommended, especially for homeowners with young children.
Types of Pool Fencing
Layers of Protection
The National Drowning Prevention Alliance (NDPA), in a statement on its website, “stresses that no single device or solution can prevent child drownings.” It recommends “layers of protection” to prevent unauthorized access, especially for children. These layers include adult supervision, pool fences, covers, alarms and more. Isolation fencing, in addition to perimeter fencing, is recommended. Isolation fencing completely separates the pool (or spa) from the house. It can be made from wood, aluminum, vinyl, Plexiglas, chain-link, or wrought iron, but needs to conform to some key specifications to be most effective: NDPA recommends 60” (CPSC Guidelines recommend a minimum of 48 inches.) height with vertical bars set no more than 4 inches apart to keep a small child from squeezing through.
Horizontal bars must be far enough apart that they cannot act as a “ladder” to climb over. The horizontal bar closest to the ground should also not allow enough room for a child to crawl under the fence. Gates to pool or spa areas should be self-closing and self-latching and accommodate a locking device. Gates should open away from the pool.