Tips on Pool Fence Safety to Reduce Your Liability

There’s nothin’ more inviting on a hot summer day than a cool dip. And that can lead to trouble if your pool lacks a child-proof fence.

Lush, resort-like backyard swimming pool with a bronze pool fence surrounding it.
Image: The Good Brigade/getty

Installing a fence around your swimming pool is a smart security measure that prevents kids from having unsupervised access. In many areas, the law and your insurance company may also require it. But how do you know what kind of fence to pick?

Here’s where things get tricky.

There Are No Standard Requirements

The U.S. does not have a federal pool fence law. Instead, pool barriers are regulated at the state and local level.

Even if your pool is exempt from local or state fencing laws, your insurance company might require it.

So, what to choose?

Follow These Recommendations to Be Safe

Here’s a list of features every pool fence should have, based on legal requirements across the states and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission:

  • Height: Some areas require a four-foot fence; the CPSC recommends four feet or taller.
  • Structure: The fence must be impossible for children to climb.
  • Type: Permanent fencing is ideal because of durability.
  • Gate: All states require gates with direct access to the pool or spa and require them to be self-closing and self-latching.
  • Materials: Structures can be made from a wide range of stuff including wood, vinyl, and aluminum. However, make sure the material you pick is not easily susceptible to damage.

1. Removable mesh pool fencing: Many consumers like this option because it’s an easy-to-move transparent barrier. But when it comes to safety, don’t skimp. The Association of Pool & Spa Professionals has set a standard for fences like these that is recognized worldwide. Here in the U.S., the standard has the approval of the American Society for Testing and Materials. So if you go with a mesh barrier, make sure it meets or exceeds the ASTM requirements. In many areas, this is also mandatory by law.

View of a pool through a dark, mesh safety net.
Image: pixinoo/getty

2. Vertical bar fencing: Structures can be made from a wide range of materials including wood, vinyl, aluminum, and wrought iron. However, make sure the material you pick isn't easily susceptible to damage. In most states, the space between the vertical bars can’t be more than four inches wide.

A boy jumping into a swimming pool with a bar style fence.
Image: km406/getty

3. Glass panel fencing: They are durable and safe because they’re made from tempered glass. Plus, because they're transparent, they don’t detract from your pool’s beauty.

Modern backyard swimming pool with a glass pool fence.
Image: Image Supply/getty

Add Additional Protection

Keep in mind: Many states require layers of protection in addition to fencing.

Examples of additional layers of security include:

  • Automatic rigid pool covers
  • An underwater motion swimming pool alarm
  • Rescue equipment

But who do you contact in your area to get the skinny on swimming pool safety? Since every state and county sets up their agencies differently, try contacting the following departments in your area (the titles can vary):

  • Building Code Department
  • Department of Health
  • Licensing and Regulatory Affairs

How did we find stuff? We Googled "swimming pool safety" along with the name of our county and state.

Related: Tips to Prevent Burglaries

Deirdre Sullivan bio photo
Deirdre Sullivan

Deirdre Sullivan is an NYC-based writer who's obsessed with maximizing every inch of her urban dwelling. She's a former fashionista who has worked for Lucky Magazine and InStyle. She recently traded her high heels and Fashion Week pass for a drill and bandsaw. Follow Deirdre on Twitter, and Pinterest.