Every family waits with eager anticipation the installation of their new pool. However, before taking the first dip in your new pool, there are fencing laws to which you must adhere under the Residential Swimming Pool Safety Act. Failure to do so has stiff penalties.
Enacted in 2009, the law is designed to reduce the number of accidental drowning of children. Prior to passage of the law, drowning was the No. 1 cause of accidental death in children of all ages. Now pool owners are required by law to erect a barrier around their pool that adheres to stringent specifications.
Outdoor swimming pools are required to be encircled by a fence or other suitable barrier of at least 4 feet in height. It must be low enough to the ground so children can’t crawl under it and include no outcroppings that small children can use to crawl over it.
The fence is required to be a specified distance from the edge of the pool in the event that a child manages to infiltrate the barrier to prevent them from immediately falling in the water. The fence must have a gate that opens outward, be self-closing, and be equipped with a self-locking device.
There are some exceptions for indoor pools. If the pool is inside a screened in area, a fence isn’t required as long as the windows and doors that give access to the pool have a wired safety alarm. A fence also isn’t required if there’s a self-closing, self-latching device installed at least 54 inches above ground level.
Small, shallow wading pools are popular for younger children at home. They’re designed to be temporary in nature and aren’t subject to fencing laws. Private community pools and public pools located in condos and apartment complexes are also exempt from the fencing law, but also have more rigorous laws to ensure the safety of children around water. Public swimming pools must be in compliance with the Virginia Graeme Baker Federal Pool and Sap Safety Act.
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