Safety barriers for pools and spas
Around much of the nation, Memorial Day weekend signals the time to open the family pool for the summer. Pool owners, especially those with young children and grandchildren, should always keep in mind the deadly hazards a pool can pose.
More than 375 children under 5 years old drown in pools each year nationwide — most in residential pools. Drowning ranks as the leading cause of death to young children in several sunbelt states. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reminds pool owners there are steps they can take to avoid these drownings.
Physical barriers designed to limit access to pools provide an important layer of security. Effective barriers include fences or walls, and power safety covers over pools.
Fences and walls should be at least 4 feet high and installed completely around the pool. Fence gates should be self-closing and self- latching. The latch should be out of a small child’s reach.
If your house forms one side of the barrier for the pool, then doors leading from the house to the pool should be protected with alarms that produce an audible sound when a door is unexpectedly opened. A power safety cover, a motor-powered barrier that can be placed over the water area, can be used as an alternative to door alarms.
For above-ground pools, steps and ladders to the pool should be secured and locked, or removed when the pool is not in use.
Curious about pool barriers?
CPSC offers free publications consumers can use to help prevent child drowning. Some localities have incorporated the CPSC guidelines into their building codes and regulations.
- Safety Barrier Guidelines for Pools (PDF)
- Guidelines for Entrapment Hazards: Making Pools and Spas Safer (PDF)
Copies of these publications can be obtained here on CPSC’s website, or by writing to “Pool Safety”, CPSC, Washington, D.C., 20207. Information on ordering these publications is also available by calling the CPSC Hotline, (800) 638-2772.