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Pool Safety Guide

BARRIERS FOR RESIDENTIAL SWIMMING POOL, SPAS, AND HOT TUBS 

The preceding explanations of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission's pool barrier guidelines were provided in order to make it easier for pool owners, purchasers, builders, technicians and others to understand and apply the guidelines themselves. Detailed guidelines follow. 

Reading the following guidelines in conjunction with the diagrams previously provided may be especially helpful. For further information, consult your local building department or code authority. 

Application 

The guidelines presented in this document are intended to provide a means of protection against potential drownings and neardrownings to children under 5 years of age by restricting access to residential swimming pools, spas, and hot tubs. 

Definitions 

Aboveground/onground pool. See definition of swimming pool. 

Barrier. A fence, a wall, a building wall or a combination thereof which completely surrounds the swimming pool and obstructs access to the swimming pool. 

Hot tub. See definition of swimming pool. 

Inground pool. See definition of swimming pool. 

Residential. That which is situated on the premises of a detached one- or two-family dwelling or a one-family townhouse not more than three stories in height. 

Spa, nonportable. See definition of swimming pool. 

Spa, portable. A non-permanent structure intended for recreational bathing, in which all controls, water- heating, and water-circulating equipment are an integral part of the product and which is cordconnected (not permanently electrically wired). 

Swimming pool. Any structure intended for swimming or recreational bathing that contains water over 24 inches deep. This includes inground, aboveground, and onground swimming pools, hot tubs, and spas. 

Swimming pool, indoor. A swimming pool which is totally contained within a structure and surrounded on all four sides by walls of said structure. 

Swimming pool, outdoor. Any swimming pool which is not an indoor pool. 

Guidelines

Section I. Outdoor Swimming Pool An outdoor swimming pool, including an inground, aboveground, or onground pool, hot tub, or spa, should be provided with a barrier which complies with the following: 

  1. The top of the barrier should be at least 48 inches above grade measured on the side of the barrier which faces away from the swimming pool. The maximum vertical clearance between grade and the bottom of the barrier should be 4 inches measured on the side of the barrier which faces away from the swimming pool. Where the top of the pool structure is above grade, such as an aboveground pool, the barrier may be at ground level, such as the pool structure, or mounted on top of the pool structure. Where the barrier is mounted on top of the pool structure, the maximum vertical clearance between the top of the pool structure and the bottom of the barrier should be 4 inches. 

  2. Openings in the barrier should not allow passage of a 4-inch diameter sphere. 

  3. Solid barriers, which do not have openings, such as a masonry or stone wall, should not contain indentations or protrusions except for normal construction tolerances and tooled masonry joints. 

  4. Where the barrier is composed of horizontal and vertical members and the distance between the tops of the horizontal members is less than 45 inches, the horizontal members should be located on the swimming pool side of the fence. Spacing between vertical members should not exceed 1-3/4 inches in width. Where there are decorative cutouts, spacing within the cutouts should not exceed 1-3/4 inches in width. 

  5. Where the barrier is composed of horizontal and vertical members and the distance between the tops of the horizontal members is 45 inches or more, spacing between vertical members should not exceed 4 inches. Where there are decorative cutouts, spacing within the cutouts should not exceed 1-3/4 inches in width. 

  6. Maximum mesh size for chain link fences should not exceed 1-3/4 inch square unless the fence is provided with slats fastened at the top or the bottom which reduce the openings to no more than 1-3/4 inches. 

  7. Where the barrier is composed of diagonal members, such as a lattice fence, the maximum opening formed by the diagonal members should be no more than 1-3/4 inches. 

  8. Access gates to the pool should comply with Section I, Paragraphs 1 through 7, and should be equipped to accommodate a locking device. Pedestrian access gates should open outward, away from the pool, and should be self-closing and have a selflatching device. Gates other than pedestrian access gates should have a self-latching device. Where the release mechanism of the self-latching device is located less than 54 inches from the bottom of the gate, (a) the release mechanism should be located on the pool side of the gate at least 3 inches below the top of the gate and (b) the gate and barrier should have no opening greater than 1/2 inch within 18 inches of the release mechanism.

  9. Where a wall of a dwelling serves as part of the barrier, one of the following should apply: 

    1. All doors with direct access to the pool through that wall should be equipped with an alarm which produces an audible warning when the door and its screen, if present, are opened. The alarm should sound continuously for a minimum of 30 seconds within 7 seconds after the door is opened. Alarms should meet the requirements of UL 2017 General- Purpose Signaling Devices and Systems, Section 77. The alarm should have a minimum sound pressure rating of 85 dBA at 10 feet and the sound of the alarm should be distinctive from other household sounds, such as smoke alarms, telephones, and door bells. The alarm should automatically reset under all conditions. The alarm should be equipped with manual means, such as touchpads or switches, to temporarily deactivate the alarm for a single opening of the door from either direction. Such deactivation should last for no more than 15 seconds. The deactivation touchpads or switches should be located at least 54 inches above the threshold of the door. 

    2. The pool should be equipped with a power safety cover which complies with ASTM F1346-91 listed below. 

    3. Other means of protection, such as self-closing doors with self-latching devices, are acceptable so long as the degree of protection afforded is not less than the protection afforded by (a) or (b) described above.


  10. Where an aboveground pool structure is used as a barrier or where the barrier is mounted on top of the pool structure, and the means of access is a ladder or steps, then (a) the ladder to the pool or steps should be capable of being secured, locked or removed to prevent access, or (b) the ladder or steps should be surrounded by a barrier which meets Section I, Paragraphs 1 through 9. When the ladder or steps are secured, locked, or removed, any opening created should not allow the passage of a 4-inch diameter sphere.

Section II. Indoor Swimming Pool. 

All walls surrounding an indoor swimming pool should comply with Section I, Paragraph 9. 

Section III. Barrier Locations. 

Barriers should be located so as to prohibit permanent structures, equipment or similar objects from being used to climb the barriers.

Exemptions

A portable spa with a safety cover which complies with ASTM F1346-91 listed below should be exempt from the guidelines presented in this document. But, swimming pools, hot tubs, and nonportable spas with safety covers should not be exempt from the provisions of this document. 

ASTM F1346-91. Standard Performance Specification for Safety Covers and Labeling Requirements for All Covers for Swimming Pools, Spas and Hot Tubs. 


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