Jan 16, 2018 4:01:51 PM / by Don Cook

Your vision of a stunning pool and spa is becoming a reality—and whether you’re in the initial design and planning phases, or nearing the end of pool construction, it’s always the right time to be thinking about swimming pool code. One question property owners frequently ask is, “Do I really need a child safety fence?”

The simple answer is, yes.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) unintentional drowning statistics note that an average of 10 people die every day because of unintentional drowning, with 1 in 5 of those being children 14 and younger. That National Safety Council’s drowning report cites that about 250 children under age 5 drown each year, with most incidents occurring in backyard pools when an adult was nearby but not watching and the child fell in the pool.

So yes—yes, you need a child safety fence for your pool and spa even if you don’t have children.

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You need the “pool baby fence,” as they’re often called, even if your property backs up to a waterway. (And yes, we realize that a child could easily get into the waterway, too, but the safety fence still must surround your pool.)

Yes, you need the safety fence even if you have a postcard perfect view of the ocean that you don’t want to block.

And, yes, there are a few other options aside from a physical barrier, and we’ll talk about those here, along with answering questions about why this code exists, what you can do to comply, and what happens if the inspector arrives on your property and you don’t have the proper barrier in place.

What Is The Child Safety Fence Code, Exactly?

download.jpegCode R4101.17 is the Residential Swimming Barrier Requirement that requires swimming pools to have a proper safety pool cover that adheres to ASTM standards. A “barrier” does not necessarily mean a physical fence. It can include an ASTM-approved pool cover. There are also “child safety nets” that hook into the side pool deck area. Finally, there are child safety “roll” fences that are four feet tall, include posts that are drilled into the pool deck, and a mesh side that attaches to the poles. It can be removed by unhooking the mesh and rolling back the mesh material. (This barrier fence goes together and comes apart a lot like an erector set.)

Beyond the barrier, code also requires installing audible alarms on doors that exit to the pool area, such as a sliding door to the back patio. This way, property owners hear when a child might exit the home to the pool area.

While code can vary among municipalities, the requirement for a residential swimming barrier is a code enforced state-wide. Every swimming pool owner must comply with the code, which is why Reef Tropical ensures that all the pools and spas we build include a barrier before inspection. (Inspection is mandatory.)

Who Installs The Child Safety Pool Fence?

We partner with a local company that specializes in child safety fencing, Crystal Clear Pools of Big Pine Key, Fla. The cost is figured based on linear foot, so the expense depends on the size of the pool / area you must protect. While a child safety net or approved pool cover might cost less, some owners prefer the barrier fence because it is easy to roll back to enjoy views while the pool is in use—and because it is made of mesh, you can see through it. Also, one person can roll back the fence, while it takes two people to remove a pool cover properly.

When does the safety fence installation happen? During the final stages of construction, our team works directly with the fence provider, which takes measurements and then installs the fence. Installation usually takes about one day, and we like to plan at least two weeks out. This ensures that when the pool is completed, the child safety barrier is in place and ready for inspection—and for you to enjoy the pool safely!

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What If I Don’t Have A Child Safety Fence Around My Florida Pool?

Then, your pool is not compliant. Your pool will not pass inspection, and the inspector will require you to get the appropriate child safety barrier in place immediately. (You might also face expensive fines that could cost more than installing the safety barrier in the first place.)

What If My Property Has A Privacy Fence Already?

While most coastal properties on the Keys do not have privacy fences, so property owners can enjoy the views, some inland residents do choose to install privacy fences to create an enclosed environment around their pool and outdoor living spaces. In this case, the privacy fence can serve as the child safety barrier if it has a lockable, child-proof latch and meets code requirements. We’ll advise you during the pool construction process on whether your privacy fence meets requirements—and most do.  

Better to Be Safe—And Adhere to Florida Swimming Pool Code

No property owner wants to experience an accidental drowning in their swimming pool. And even if there are not any children living at the home, there is always the chance of an accident and a swimming pool is considered an “attractive nuisance.” If your pool is accessible, anyone could enter it—including an unsupervised child. If an accident occurs, the property owner is liable.

There’s a reason why codes are in place and enforced—to protect you, the property owner. While the codes might seem frustrating, they are designed to create a safe environment for everyone. An experienced pool provider can help you navigate codes so you understand what is expected. That way, when it comes time for inspection, your pool will pass with flying color and you can move on with the fun part—enjoying the pool!

Let’s talk more about pool code and other requirements for building pools and spas, including the permit process. Contact us any time at 305.367.2005, or fill out this simple contact form and we’ll get in touch with you.

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Topics: Pool & Spa Maintenance, Pool & Spa Construction

Don Cook

Written by Don Cook

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