Pool & Spa Safety

The following is a excerpt from a safety and real estate bulletin by the California Real Estate Inspection Association about pool and spa fencing: All homeowners and potential home buyers should take pool and spa fencing seriously. According to recent studies, more than half of all pool drownings that occur in the U.S. involve children under the age of five. Attention to pool fence and other safety issues is a vital imperative for everyone owning or living near a pool or back yard spa.

Requirements for pool fencing are not as rigidly set as most other standards in the Uniform Building Code because they are contained in the appendix portion of the code, rather than the main chapters. Municipalities that adopt the code into law have the option to include the fence requirements in the appendix or to write specific standards of their own. It's wise to consult your professional home inspector or local building department with regards to pool or spa safety.

In jurisdictions where standard fence requirements are in force, there are ten basic rules to keep in mind when fencing an area around a pool or spa:

  1. Fencing should totally surround the pool area.

  2. Fencing should be at least four feet, but preferably six feet in height.

  3. The bottom edges of fencing should be within 4 inches of pavement or within 2 inches of unpaved ground.

  4. To prevent children from squeezing between vertical components of a fence, the spacing should not exceed 4 inches.

  5. Fencing should provide no footholds or handholds that would facilitate climbing.

  6. Diamond-shaped chain-link fence openings should be no larger than 1.75 inches, or have inserts to prevent climbing.

  7. Pedestrian gates allowing access into the pool area should be self-closing/self-latching and latch mechanisms should be out of reach of small children.

  8. Pedestrian gates should swing in a direction away from the pool (so small children do not push them open).

  9. Gates for non-pedestrian use should remain locked when not is use.

  10. When an exit door from the home or any adjacent buildings enters directly into the pool area, each such door should be equipped with a self-closing device and an audible alarm.

Pools and spas can be very enticing to small children, sometimes with tragic results. By following these basic standards and consulting your local building department for additional requirements, your pool area should be reasonably protected from child access.