Every year, over 4,600 drownings and near-drownings occur in home pools. A properly
constructed and installed fence is one way to reduce the risk of accidental drowning or
injury in residential swimming pools. While nothing can replace parental supervision, a
fence that complies with safety standards is important for the protection of our children.
Most localities require a minimum fence height around a swimming pool of 4' and have
specific regulations concerning gates and fence materials. It is best to check with your
local zoning/permit office concerning local ordinances regarding height and other
Ornamental Fence, made of steel, aluminum, and vinyl (PVC) have become very
popular because of their aesthetic and maintenance-free properties. The steel and aluminum
fences generally have vertical pickets 5/8" to 1" in width. There are generally
two or more horizontal members which hold the vertical pickets in place. When the
horizontal members are 45" or less apart, the spacing between the vertical pickets
should be no more than 1 3/4" wide. When the distance between the top and bottom
horizontal members are over 45", the vertical pickets should be spaced so that a
4" ball cannot be passed between the pickets.
Chain Link Fence is the most functional and
economical. The diamond mesh size of the chain link fence should not be larger than 1
1/4" to prevent small children from climbing it. When larger mesh chain link material
is used, slats of wood, plastic, or aluminum should be installed to reduce the size of the
openings to less than 1 3/4". If slats are to be used, check to make certain that the
framework is strong enough to withstand the additional wind load on the fence.
should be installed to open outward, away from the pool, and always be equipped with
self-locking latches and self-closing hinges and springs. If the fence is 4' tall,
the latch should be installed on the pool side of the gate, at least 3" from the top.
This would make it necessary to reach over the top of the gate to open it. If the latch
must be mounted on the outside of the gate, it should be placed higher than 54". If
the fence is 5' tall or higher, the latch should be installed at least 54" from the
bottom of the gate. All gates should have self-latching mechanisms and be able to accept a
locking device, such as a padlock, and be kept locked when not in use.