swimming pool fences

How To Maximize Your Pool Safety With Swimming Pool Fencing

As we move into the summer and the heat begins to beat down on most of the United States, people are naturally going to go looking for ways to keep cool. One of the best, regardless of where you live, is a swimming pool. Having a pool at your disposal can make all the difference when it comes to minimizing the effects of the heat, and it can even help save you money because your family won’t be trapped inside all day running the air conditioning. However, pools need to be kept safe for obvious reasons, and the best way to accomplish this is with swimming pool fencing.

Everyone basically understands that swimming pool fencing is essential for pools that sit near children and people that can’t swim, but there are additional considerations to keep in mind if you’re busy looking at different types of swimming pool fences. Aluminum Fences Direct has a plethora of swimming pool fence ideas and options, and below we’re going to run through some of those ideas that are extremely important in this regard.

Swimming Pool Fencing Laws

While there is no federal law with regards to swimming pool fencing, most local jurisdictions have laws and regulations in place that require swimming pool fences and other safety measures designed to prevent injuries or worse. This is a prevalent problem, as according to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, nearly 300 children under the age of five drown every year in swimming pools. 

As such, the USCPSC has published guidelines, linked above, that provide recommendations for swimming pool fencing. A few examples of these recommendations include:

  • Swimming pool fencing should be at least 48 inches tall.
  • Swimming pool fences, ideally, should be at least five feet tall.
  • Barriers should exist on all four sides of a pool.
  • If one of the barriers is the home itself, the doors leading to the pool should have alarms.
  • Pool covers can offer another layer of protection and safety.

The guidelines go on to provide more details with regards to different types of swimming pool fencing and how they should be built, so please give it a read before you proceed with your plans. As far as local laws are concerned, check with your municipality to find out exactly what’s required for your pool.

Keeping Your Child Out of Your Above-Ground Pool

Although the challenge is somewhat different, the goal and approach towards safety with regards to above-ground pools is the same: to keep children and people who otherwise cannot swim from gaining unsupervised access to the pool. Obviously, above-ground pools are different from inground pools in a structural sense, and that means that your swimming pool fencing also needs to be built differently.

Usually, swimming pool fencing that protects above-ground pools is placed on the top of the pool itself, and the USCPSC recommends that the barrier between the top of the pool and the bottom of swimming pool fences not exceed four inches. Otherwise, the pool itself should be protected on all sides, and that may include access to a deck that sits above the pool. Once again, check with your local municipality to obtain all the details you need with regards to regulations and recommendations.

Keeping Your Toddler Out of the Pool

Those of us who have or have had toddlers understand that this is quite a stage in life. These little ones are able to run around with surprising speed and stamina, but their curiosity and lack of awareness can actually make this reality extremely dangerous in certain situations. That obviously includes any time they spend near a pool, as most toddlers are not able to swim. 

Clearly, the most predictable and safe way to keep your toddler out of the pool is to keep constant watch over him or her and to never allow the child to go near the pool without direct supervision. That’s not always going to work, though, as we all understand. More needs to be done, and it starts with swimming pool fencing.

Aside from the recommendations above from the federal government, along with heavy doses of caution and common sense, the only other thing to add to your approach to swimming pool fencing is to make sure that the latch and gate are self-closing and that the latch exist at least 54 inches above the ground so that the child cannot reach it. Structurally, you should also make sure that the child is not able to climb the fence in any way. 

What Is the Safest Style for Swimming Pool Fencing?

Finally, we’d like to discuss a common question that we answer for our customers, which involves the style of swimming pool fencing that’s the safest. There is no one, overriding answer to this question, as every pool, every setup and every set of details is going to be unique. What we can tell you is that we’ve made countless families happy with our choices when it comes to swimming pool fencing, and we can do so for you as well.

You should start by taking a look at our styles. You should also start thinking about the advantages that aluminum fencing presents when compared to wood. A few examples of those advantages include durability, style and ease of management among many others. If you’re looking at swimming pool fencing and you’d like whatever you build to last years, aluminum is the way to go almost every time. 

If you’re still not sure about the best approach when it comes to your swimming pool fencing, you can also feel free to contact us at any time. We’ll be happy to talk to you about your situation and make recommendations that move you towards a solution. Enjoy the summer and beating the heat as best you can, and we look forward to providing you with the safety and peace of mind with regards to your pool that you deserve. 

portable pool fence

Why Portable Pool Fences Aren’t Safe

Now that summer is nearly here, it’s time for more sun and fun in your backyard areas. But if you have a backyard pool or spa, you’ll need a robust fence to control who has access to your pool, especially when you’re away. After all, unless your property line is sealed, children may make their way into your pool without your knowledge, and that can lead to an accident or worse.

Unfortunately, some homeowners may errantly think that a portable pool fence is a good alternative to a permanent fence that can block access in the absence of a supervising adult, but they’re often less safe and can introduce a whole new set of dangers to your pool area. Additionally, many states and municipalities actually require safety pool fencing that abides by specific guidelines as to height, rigidity and installation — and you likely won’t be able to satisfy those demands with a portable pool fence, nor should you want to.

The reason fencing is needed is that children may be enticed towards the pool even if it’s not swimming time. The glistening of the water and toys or other items in the water can draw young children in — and they won’t know that no one’s watching them if they have easy access to the pool from the backyard. 

The Dangers of Drowning

While it’s every parent’s biggest fear, drowning in a backyard pool is exceedingly common. In fact, after accounting for birth defects, drowning is the number one cause of death for children between the ages of 1 and 4. Even if your attention is only misplaced for a second, a child can often make their way to the pool without being spotted, particularly when there are obstructed sight lines involved. 

It’s why the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends being vigilant whenever there is a pool on the premises — even in the case of a hot tub or an inflatable pool. And, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), drownings under the age of 4 happen almost 70 percent of the time when there was no expectation that the child would be in the pool area; in almost half of the instances, the child was last seen inside the house, not in the backyard or around the pool.

The Importance of a Pool Fence

Whether your backyard pool is a permanent, in-ground pool or a temporary portable pool, a fence is required. Even if you’re just setting up a pool for the day and you plan on being around, you’ll need some kind of pool barrier to prevent small children from accessing the water in those times when adults are distracted or elsewhere. 

That’s because most drownings for children under the age of 4 occur in a pool or spa at home. While each story is different, there are certain commonalities that typically start with the child wandering out of the house and into a pool area that wasn’t fenced off from the home. Sometimes they slip out a door — other times they crawl out windows or through doggy doors — and it’s often the case that the parents or a chaperone was unaware the child was even outside.

More than a quarter of the time, drownings happen at a neighbor’s or a friend’s house. There may be no national safety pool fencing law, but some states and cities are wising-up to this danger and mandating that all pools within their jurisdictions have sufficient fencing. If your state or city doesn’t have this requirement, it’s still a good idea to have a fence around any pool or hot tub in the backyard.

Pool Fencing Requirements

From portable pool fencing to permanent installations, a pool fence should be at least four feet tall and have four sides, completely encasing the pool itself. Even if you have fencing around your backyard or the pool is in an area that seems safe, you’ll need a fencing option that can keep any unauthorized access out, especially when you’re not around.

In addition to certain height requirements, a pool fence must be climb proof. That makes many portable pool fencing options a no-go since they’re not locked into place by concrete and other permanent fixtures. Sure, you may save some money on that portable pool fence, but it’s not really providing the safety that you might expect. If there are any nearby obstacles that children can stand on to gain leverage or to help them scale the fence — or otherwise compromise the design — that portable pool fence may be little more than a short-lived barrier to unwanted pool access.

The vertical slats on pool fences must also be no more than 4 inches wide, which helps keep small children and pets from squeezing through the gaps. Some poor fencing options may feature slats that are too wide or that lack the strength to resist prying, which negates the whole point of a pool fence in the first place.

As for the entrance into the pool area, experts suggest that the fence should have a self-latching and self-closing gate that opens away from the pool area, and that the latch itself should be situated towards the top of the fence, or at least 54 inches from the ground. That will put the latch out of a child’s reach, but still make it easy for adults to get in and out.

For those times that the pool is not in use, the gate must be able to be locked — either with a mechanism on the handle itself or a simple padlock that can be threaded through the gate — preventing anyone from accessing the area. It’s also a good idea to keep all toys and items out of the pool when it’s not in use. Toys may entice a child to enter the pool area on their own, and getting everything out of the pool communicates that the pool is off limits.

What About Alarms or Pool Covers?

It’s an unfortunate truth of pool drownings that there’s rarely an indication that anything has happened at all until a body is found. Any sort of struggle or thrashing about is often too quiet to break the din of the day’s festivities, and a secure fence is still the best way to prevent unauthorized access to any pool area. 

But an alarm can help give you an additional layer of protection along with that fence. Alarms can be placed at the pool gate, at the back door, or on ground-level windows, though a pool alarm is something that listens for screaming or a sudden burst of activity in the pool, alerting you so that you can spring into action before something happens. 

Some may believe that pool covers represent an alternative to a pool fence, but a cover is much less safe than you may think. To provide security, a pool cover must not be easily pulled up or retracted more than a few inches. The pool cover may be huge and heavy, but if a child can slip under a corner, that cover isn’t providing any sort of actual security. Additionally, the cover itself needs to not collect water on top since children can drown in as little as a couple inches of water. 

Note that typical solar and winter pool and spa covers are not security covers and shouldn’t be treated as such. Additionally, floating covers may be the worst of the bunch because a child could try to climb on top, getting sucked down as their weight pushes the cover in.

A Portable Pool Fence Isn’t Good Enough

Given the requirements and what you need from your pool fence — four feet of height, four inches between each slat, a self-latching and self-closing gate out of the reach of children, a lock and no climbable features — it’s true that a portable pool fence is wholly inadequate. Most temporary fencing isn’t rigid enough to adequately protect your pool from unauthorized access, and over time it can get even worse as that temporary fence starts to wear and wiggle to a point where it may not provide any meaningful protection at all.

While parents should always be around whenever kids are in the pool, it’s hard to keep 100 percent of the focus on the pool area. You could always assign a water watcher, but if they’re on their phone or involved with other activities, they’re not giving their undivided attention. A permanent pool fence is one of the only proven ways to minimize the chances of an unfortunate accident, and when combined with other strategies it can help make that backyard pool a source of fun and excitement, not cause for worry or dread.

Beyond a good fence and some kind of pool supervisor, it’s also a good idea to outfit young children with life jackets or other buoys that can help keep them above water if they should inadvertently fall in. To help enhance their swimming skills, it’s a great idea to enroll your children in swim lessons — or demand swim lessons or certifications for all kids that swim in your pool. 

For the adults, it’s a good idea to get CPR training so that if an accident does happen, an adult can help. And if your child goes missing, make it standard practice to check the pool first. Time is of the essence, and seconds can mean the difference between life and death.

All that said, the first place to start is with a secure and strong pool fence. Here at Aluminum Fences Direct, we sell robust aluminum pool fencing that you can install yourself at home. Click here to get started.

swimming pool fences

Pool Fencing Ideas for Your Unsecured Pool

Whether you’ve had a pool for years and your existing fence is in need of replacement or you’re considering adding a backyard pool but you’re unsure of where to start, you’ll need a fence that is both safe and matches your desired aesthetic. The good news is that there’s certainly no shortage of pool fencing ideas for you to draw on, and instead of leaving you with a blight on your backyard, they can actually enhance the feeling of your outdoor area while also helping keep that pool safe for you and your family.

But the problem is that some types of pool fencing are hardly ideal for the task. Fences that are too low or not robust enough to prevent unauthorized access may not be safe enough for daily use, especially if you have kids or pets. It’s also true that pricing varies wildly from the bottom of the market to the top — and price may not indicate security or reliability, so it’s important to consider everything before making your final decision.

After all, a permanent fence around that backyard pool is a big decision, and going with a temporary solution is no way to safeguard that pool. In fact, many fences are more decorative than functional, merely indicating that a given pool is off limits but not actually preventing that unauthorized access that could lead to some kind of accident. Even if you don’t have kids of your own, your neighborhood likely does, and if you’re away on vacation and an accident happens, you’ll wish you would have spent more time on those swimming pool fence ideas.

That said, just about every pool fencing idea has some value. The secret is to match your needs with the fence you get so that the fence does not only what you need it to do, but that it also doesn’t disrupt your backyard area with more clutter and things that you don’t want around your pool area. But you’ll have to do something. After birth defects, pool drownings are the number one cause of death for children between the ages of one and four, and it only takes seconds for a child to slip by undetected and into the pool area, even if they were last seen in the home.

Here are some pool fencing ideas to keep in mind as you make your decision.

Wooden Pool Fencing Ideas

Fences have been made from wood for hundreds of years due to their lightweight but rigid structure that acts as a great property boundary and a way to signify to others that a given area is off limits. 

But when you’re working with wood, just about anything is fair game. From DIY fences to commercial options that may feature prefab sections that can be easily installed at home, a wooden pool fence can provide a classic look — but due to its exposure to nearby water from the pool, they’re also prone to splitting, cracking and rotting, which can jeopardize the integrity of the pool fence itself, as well as introduce hazards to nearby swimmers.

Sure, a raw wood fence looks great and rustic, but if there are splinters all over the pool deck and all that splashing and water inevitably causes the wood to rot, you’ll end up with a deteriorating pool fencing idea that is hardly up to par. To prevent chipping and rotting, most people end up treating or painting that wooden fence, but that also means keeping up on maintenance and ensuring that the wooden fence is kept clean and dry before real damage starts to happen.

From lattice fencing to traditional pickets, wood fences run the gamut from quaint and cozy to huge vertical behemoths and everything in between. Unfortunately, they’re not an ideal pool deck fencing idea because the sustained water exposure can lead to damage in short order even with proper maintenance and care.

Glass Pool Fencing Ideas

For a great pool fencing idea that looks good and provides the necessary security that pool deck areas need, today’s glass pool fencing is made from thick sheets of safety glass called balustrades that are much heavier and more durable than traditional glass. Featuring some kind of metal posting structure to provide rigidity and support,  glass pool fencing is ideal when visibility is important.

Unfortunately, glass fencing is also super expensive, running as much as $200 per foot. It’s also a huge maintenance pain as those glass panes attract dust, fingerprints and other grime that will be highly visible through the transparent glass. But if you don’t mind the price and the almost daily need for cleaning and maintenance, a glass fence is one of the most visually striking inground pool fencing ideas because it provides the safety you need while preserving sight lines.

Vinyl Pool Fencing Ideas

Providing a nice alternative to wood fences that need lots of care and attention to prevent the water from rotting and destroying it, vinyl pool fencing ideas are similar to wood in look but without the ongoing maintenance need. Instead of having to keep up with painting, vinyl fencing offers a cheap way to get the security you need without the annoyance of maintenance. 

The best part is that vinyl fencing comes in various colors and designs so that you can meet your exact aesthetic need. However, vinyl fencing won’t fool any close-up scrutiny as vinyl looks like wood from a distance but hardly passes muster up close. But if you’re okay with the look of vinyl, it could be a great pool fencing idea as it should last longer than traditional wood fencing, particularly around a pool area that’s exposed to so much water. 

That said, vinyl fencing is typically a solid barrier with non-existent or small openings that don’t do a great job at letting the wind through. If you live in a windy area, a vinyl fence could be vulnerable to wind damage; the same thing that makes vinyl fencing bad in windy areas is also what makes it bad for visibility, so if sight lines are important you may want to go with another option.

Alternative Pool Fencing Ideas

Alternative pool fencing options are also available, but for various reasons they’re not ideal in most situations. 

There’s bamboo, which is a strong and durable pool fencing option — and they even resist termites. They look great and can provide a unique look for your backyard pool area, especially if you’re going for a tropical theme, and they also can help dial up the privacy around your pool area. However, if you live in a dry area that’s prone to wildfires, you may want to rethink that bamboo option. They combust quickly, which can put your home at greater chance of catching fire in the instance of a local wildfire.

While it won’t win any aesthetic awards, mesh pool fencing is another viable pool fence idea, though it may not leave the same impression of our other options. Primarily used as a stop-gap until you can get permanent fencing up around your pool, mesh fencing is relatively cheap and provides a similar see-through look of glass without the expense. But it’s also one of the less secure options and a sharp object or a knife may be all that’s needed to compromise the security.

The Real Deal – Metal Pool Fencing Options

For many homeowners, the only real fencing option is a metal fence. They’re strong, preserve sightlines and look great, and they’re more affordable than you may think. The three main metal options are iron, steel and aluminum. 

The first option, iron, has been used for centuries as fencing around homes and public places, though it’s immensely heavy and hard to work with. Iron will also corrode outside, so it requires regular maintenance to prevent rust and rotting. Today, wrought iron has been largely replaced by lighter, cheaper and more efficient metals.

Continuing with the strength angle, tubular steel is a relatively lightweight metal option compared to iron, though it’s still not immune to weather, wetness and the damage that comes with it. That’s because just like iron, steel rusts, and you’ll need to spend much of your time applying primers and paints to ensure that your steel fence doesn’t deteriorate over time. It’s also relatively expensive.

Which brings us to our final option: aluminum. Unlike iron and steel, it won’t corrode or rot, making it a great option around the wet areas of a pool deck. Aluminum can also be used to create looks reminiscent of old wrought iron fences, which is always a great option wherever you need a secure and stable fence. Rather than wood or vinyl fencing that blocks off the sight lines, an aluminum fence is secure enough to prevent unauthorized access while still retaining visibility from inside the home and out from the pool area. 

Because it won’t rust, aluminum pool fencing needs virtually no maintenance to protect its integrity, and it also comes in various colors so that you can match your aesthetic need. If you’d like a classic wrought iron look, black paint can’t be beat. But for more desert landscapes or buildings with lighter hues, a white fence can dial up the security while also blending with its surroundings, giving you the utility you need without disrupting your landscaping.

While aluminum fencing may not be the most private option, it does strike the balance between security, maintenance and cost that other options don’t. But inside or outside of that fence you can easily add shrubs or other plants that can give you privacy while the fence provides the protection and security that you need. 

For more on your aluminum pool fencing options, browse our dozens of styles here.

pool fencing requirements

Pool Fencing Requirements by State

A backyard pool is one of those staples of fun in the sun during the warmer months of the year. But regardless of how often you use your pool, it’s unfortunately a hazard 365 days of the year. After all, it only takes a second for a child or pet to wander into a pool area and inadvertently fall in, leading to an accident or worse. Even if you don’t have children of your own, kids or other people could gain access to your pool if it’s left largely unsecured for much of the year, and that could represent a legal liability that you probably don’t want to deal with.

The good news is that you can avoid it all with a proper fence around your pool. In fact, many states and municipalities have pool fencing requirements that stipulate how backyard and public pools should be secured, and if you have a years-old pool you may be running afoul of the law without even realizing it. In addition to swimming pool fencing requirements, you may also need to post signage in some areas, so it’s important to look into your local municipal and state pool regulations to ensure that your pool area is on the up-and-up.

Note that regulations and pool fencing requirements can change at any time, so if you have any questions its best to reach out to the local authorities to verify if your pool area meets all the required laws. While commercial pools have more stringent requirements that may require adequate signage and warnings around the pool deck, residential pool owners can often satisfy their needs with a pool cover, fence and gate. 

Federal Pool Fencing Requirements

While adequate pool fencing may be the best way to prevent unauthorized access in a pool area, there’s only one real federal pool law. Known as the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act (P&SS Act), the law was named after a 7-year-old that drowned in a hot tub after getting stuck by the suction of the drain. Despite her mother’s best efforts, she was not able to break free, leading to the law that was signed by President Bush in 2007.

But the law goes further than spas. It states that all pool drain covers manufactured after December 2008 must meet the new standard, as well as requiring pools with one main drain to add a suction-limiting vent system, a gravity drainage system, an automatic pump shut-off system or disabling the drain itself.

Other federal laws include accessibility standards for public pools, though residential pools are not subject to these requirements. However, just because there’s not a federal law doesn’t mean that you may not have pool fencing requirements for your above ground or in-ground pool, particularly with regard to height or other safety needs. Even if your state or municipality doesn’t require it, pool fencing is one of the best ways to prevent a pool-related accident, and anyone with a backyard pool should seek to secure it with a fence.

Alabama

Since adopting the 2009 International Building Code, Alabama residents are subject to the pool fencing requirements outlined in Section 3109. Some counties have more restrictive regulations with regard to signage and fencing — including Baldwin, Jefferson and Mobile — so if you live in those counties you’ll have to investigate further.

Alaska

No pool fencing requirements for residential pools.

Arizona

If a pool is located at a residence where a child younger than the age of six lives, Arizona requires that a fence or barrier must surround the pool area. It must be at least five foot tall with no openings other than a door or gate larger than four inches in diameter. It must also not be located next to climbable features and sit at least 20 inches from the edge of the pool. Other pool fencing requirements depend on whether the pool area is entirely enclosed, as well as self-closing and self-latching gates.

Arkansas

Aside from requiring the same self-closing and self-latching gates of many other states, Arkansas requires fencing around all four sides and carries a pool fence height requirement of at least four feet with gaps that are no bigger than four inches. The fence should also not feature more than four inches of space between the ground and the bottom of the fence.

California

According to California Health and Safety Codes, residential pool fencing must be at least five feet tall with no more than two inches of space between the fence and the ground. The gaps in the fencing must not be any larger than four inches in diameter, and the fence itself must not be located near obstacles and surfaces that can be used to climb over the fence. If there are any gates, they need to open away from the pool area, as well as being self-closing and self-latching with the latch at least five feet off the ground to prevent unauthorized access.

Colorado

No statewide pool fencing requirements for residential pools, though the city of Denver requires fencing that is five feet tall without openings more than four inches wide, and the pool must be visible from the exterior of the fence. Self-latching and self-closing gates are also required.

Connecticut

According to the Connecticut State Building Code, pool fence height requirements are at least four feet high with a maximum of two inches of space between the ground and fence. Any horizontal members must be located on the pool side of the fence with a maximum opening of four inches in diameter.

Delaware

No pool fencing requirements for residential pools.

Florida

With the passing of the Residential Swimming Pool Safety Act in 2009, the state’s pool  fencing requirements stipulates that fences must be at least four feet tall without gaps that a young child could fit through, nor be located close enough to surrounding features that can be climbed. They have to be separate from other yard enclosures unless the enclosure also meets the requirements, as well as being at least 20 inches from the water. If gates exist, they must open away from the pool and feature self-closing, self-latching mechanisms that can’t be reached by a young child on the outside of the gate.

Pool Fencing Requirements for Other States

Note that while we’ve covered nine states here, there are 41 other states that potentially have pool fencing requirements and other laws the books governing residential pools. But when in doubt, and for the security and safety of kids in the area, every pool — residential and public — should feature a robust pool fence to prevent unauthorized access. 

For more on meeting your pool fencing requirements with a strong and robust aluminum fence, check out our affordable pool fencing options here.