Swimming Pool Safety Facts
Here’s why swimming pool safety is crucial. From Memorial Day through Labor Day 2013, at least 202 children between the ages of 1 and 14 drowned in a swimming pool or spa in the United States, according to media reports compiled by the USA Swimming Foundation.
Of those, 143 of the victims were children younger than age 5. Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death among children 1 to 4 years of age and it is the second leading cause of death for children from 5 to 14 years old.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reinforces important safety steps: fence all pools, stay close to children in the water, be alert, and teach children how to swim. The CPSC offers the following additional safety tips.
- Never leave a child unattended in a pool or spa and always watch your children closely around all bodies of water.
Designate a water watcher to supervise children in the pool or spa. This person should not be reading, texting, using a smart phone, or otherwise distracted.
Learn how to swim and teach your child how to swim.
Learn how to perform CPR on children and adults.
Keep children away from pool drains, pipes, and other openings to avoid entrapments.
Ensure any pool and spa you use has drain covers that comply with federal safety standards, and, if you do not know, ask your pool service provider about safe drain covers.
Read additional literature about keeping children safe around pools and spas.
Laws that Support Safety
While the CPSC provides safety steps, state Departments of Public Health have official “Acts” that pertain to residential to residential pools. Laws about swimming pools vary from state to state and sometimes from city to city, therefore you must understand the regulations in your area.
California has well defined rules regarding swimming pool safety. Here are excerpts from the CDPC Swimming Pool Safety Act.
Swimming Pool Safety Act
As used in this article the following terms have the following meaning…:
(a) “Swimming pool” or “pool” means any structure intended for swimming or recreational bathing that contains water over 18 inches deep. “Swimming pool” includes in-ground and above-ground structures and includes, but is not limited to, hot tubs, spas, portable spas, and non-portable wading pools.
(a) Commencing January 1, 2007, whenever a building permit is issued for construction of a new swimming pool or spa, or any building permit is issued for remodeling of an existing pool or spa, at a private, single-family home, it shall be equipped with at least one of the following seven drowning prevention safety features:
(1) The pool shall be isolated from access to a home by an enclosure that meets the requirements of Section 115923.
(2) The pool shall incorporate removable mesh pool fencing that meets American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) Specifications F 2286 standards in conjunction with a gate that is self-closing and self-latching and can accommodate a key lockable device.
(3) The pool shall be equipped with an approved safety pool cover that meets all requirements of the ASTM Specifications F 1346.
(4) The residence shall be equipped with exit alarms on those doors providing direct access to the pool.
(5) All doors providing direct access from the home to the swimming pool shall be equipped with a self-closing, self-latching device with a release mechanism placed no lower than 54 inches above the floor.
(6) Swimming pool alarms that, when placed in pools, will sound upon detection of accidental or unauthorized entrance into the water. These pool alarms shall meet and be independently certified to the ASTM Standard F 2208 “Standards Specification for Pool Alarms” which includes surface motion, pressure, sonar, laser, and infrared type alarms. For purposes of this article, “swimming pool alarms” shall not include swimming protection alarm devices designed for individual use, such as an alarm attached to a child that sounds when the child exceeds a certain distance or becomes submerged in water.
(7) Other means of protection, if the degree of protection afforded is equal to or greater than that afforded by any of the devices set forth above, and have been independently verified by an approved testing laboratory as meeting standards for those devices established by the ASTM or the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME).
(b) Prior to the issuance of any final approval for the completion of permitted construction or remodeling work, the local building code official shall inspect the drowning safety prevention devices required by this act and if no violations are found, shall give final approval.
(a)Any person entering into an agreement to build a swimming pool or spa, or to engage in permitted work on a pool or spa covered by this article, shall give the consumer notice of the requirements of this article.
(b) Pursuant to existing law, the Department of Health Services shall have available on the department’s Web site, commencing January 1, 2007, approved pool safety information available for consumers to download. Pool contractors are encouraged to share this information with consumers regarding the potential dangers a pool or spa poses to toddlers. Additionally, pool contractors may provide the consumer with swimming pool safety materials produced from organizations such as the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, Drowning Prevention Foundation, California Coalition for Children’s Safety & Health, Safe Kids Worldwide, Association of Pool and Spa Professionals, or the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Whenever a building permit is issued for the construction of a new swimming pool or spa, the pool or spa shall meet all of the following requirements:
(a) Suction Outlet
(1) The suction outlet of the pool or spa for which the permit is issued shall be equipped to provide circulation throughout the pool or spa as prescribed in paragraph
(2) The swimming pool or spa shall have at least two circulation drains per pump that shall be hydraulically balanced and symmetrically plumbed through one or more “T” fittings, and that are separated by a distance of at least three feet in any dimension between the drains.
(b) Suction outlets that are less than 12 inches across shall be covered with anti-entrapment grates, as specified in the ASME/ANSI Standard A 112.19.8 that cannot be removed except with the use of tools. Slots or openings in the grates or similar protective devices shall be of a shape, area, and arrangement that would prevent physical entrapment and would not pose any suction hazard to bathers.
(c) Any backup safety system that an owner of a new swimming pool or spa may choose to install in addition to the requirements set forth in subdivisions (a) and (b) shall meet the standards as published in the document, “Guidelines for Entrapment Hazards: Making Pools and Spas Safer,” Publication Number 363, March 2005, United States Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Whenever a building permit is issued for the remodel or modification of an existing swimming pool, toddler pool, or spa, the permit shall require that the suction outlet of the existing swimming pool, toddler pool, or spa be upgraded so as to be equipped with an anti-entrapment cover meeting current standards of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) or the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME).
What are the regulations in your state?
Want more info about which gates and fences that meet state safety standards? Click here.