|How safe is your swimming pool?
Julie Garton-Good, GRI, DREI
For many families, the American Dream is complete once the swimming pool is
added to the backyard. But what appears to be a national sign of affluence is
also one of the greatest killers of children under the age of five. Nationally,
drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death in the home; and in the
states of Florida, Texas, Arizona and California, it's the leading cause.
What can a homeowner do to prevent this tragedy from occurring? Studies by
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) find that a barrier restricting
access from the house to the pool is one of the best ways to prevent these
accidents. Review of fatality cases show that since almost all of the victims
lived in or visited the residence where the accident happened, restricted access
from the house to the pool is critical. This is particularly true of children
under the age of five, who often drown while the parent or caretaker is
The CPSC has proposed regulations to be administered through existing code
enforcement organizations. These guidelines would apply to any outdoor, private
swimming pool, hot tub or spa:
- That there be a barrier around the pool area, at least 48 inches high;
- That openings in the barrier should not allow passage of anything greater
than 4 inches in diameter;
- That solid barriers should not have openings or indentations that make it
possible to climb over the barrier;
- That the maximum mesh size for chain-link fence shall be 1.25 inches
- That access gates should be equipped with a locking device;
- Where a wall serves as part of the barrier, all doors with direct access to
the pool through that wall shall be equipped with an alarm which produces an
audible warning when the door is opened.
Additional guidelines apply to above-ground and indoor pools. For more
specific information, you can write to "Pool Safety." U.S. Consumer
Product Safety Commission, Washington, DC 20207. Ask for a copy of Safety
Barrier Guidelines for Pools (CPSC359).