The First Layer of Protection: No one thing can make a pool safe at all times. Multiple layers of protection are necessary to address the specific risks present when the pool is in use and when it is not. For outdoor pools the first and most basic item of protection is an adequate and secure fence that will both prevent access when the pool is closed and unattended and control access when the pool is open and being supervised.
Requirements for pool fence construction vary by locale; some local jurisdictions have stricter requirements than their state so you should check with local agencies (city or county board of health, building department, etc.) for specific public pool requirements in your immediate area.
Height: Though some jurisdictions permit fences as low as four feet tall, prudency requires at least five, preferably six feet of protection. There are some jurisdictions that require fences eight and even 10 feet tall around outdoor pools.
Construction: Spacing between vertical elements should not exceed four inches both to prevent access and to meet fencing codes aimed at preventing head entrapment that do not allow openings between four and ten inches. The horizontal space between elements (and the size of chain link or lattice openings) has been reduced to 1.25” in many jurisdictions to prevent climbing .Fence materials should be durable, low maintenance, and reasonably priced.
Gates, Doors, and Locks: Gates should be limited in number (but enough to meet life safety codes). They should be self-closing with self-latching locks that are sufficiently high to prevent small children from opening them. All gates should be positioned such that they will be easily viewed by lifeguards or other staff. They should be actively monitored or controlled by security hardware while the pool is open and locked while the pool is closed.
Doors into an adjacent building should have self-closing hardware; doors from an adjacent building should allow access only to deck areas that are easily monitored by the on-duty lifeguard; they should be locked when the pool is closed and unguarded.
All other gates or doors (e.g., to pool chemical or other service areas) should be locked and closed except when being actively used.
Accessibility: All pool areas should be protected from unauthorized access by children. However, they should be accessible to all authorized adult users, including those with disabilities. Because the height of an adult in a wheel chair is very similar to the height of a child, child-resistant latches should be used – i.e., latches that require strength or agility beyond that of small children.
Wading Pools: Wading pools should be separated by fencing that prevents small children from having easy access to a deeper pool. If the wading pool is within the perimeter of the taller pool-area fencing, the minimum recommended height for the wading pool fence is four feet (48 inches). Gates into the wading pool area must be self-closing and self-latching. In facilities having multiple types of pools or spas it is advisable to separate (or have the capability of separating) each pool.
Additional Security: The pool fence, no matter how high or how well constructed, is only one layer of protection and does not guarantee pool safety. Storage should be kept away from the fence so it cannot be used as a climbing aid Open pools should have the protection of well trained, vigilantly scanning lifeguards. Closed pools should have one or more of the following security measures: * signs – Pool Closed or No Trespassing * motion-activated lighting * security cameras – monitored or recording * pool alarms or sonic monitoring – to activate private or public emergency response * pool and/or spa covers – should be locked to make the pool completely inaccessible * private security surveillance (i.e., guard service)
Please call us at 800-463-8546 to discuss this or any other risk management safety tip, or visit our web site at www.redwoodsgroup.com to learn more about YMCA risk management issues.