A fence around the pool isn’t just a must-have precaution against drowning incidents – it’s
required by Florida law. It was enacted in 2009 to reduce the number of children of all ages lost
to accidental drowning. Before the law was passed, drowning was the No. 1 cause of death in
children. The law requires swimming pool owners to install a barrier around their pool that
conform to strict specifications.
The entire pool must be contained within a fence or similar barrier. The fence is required to be
at least 4 feet high and low enough to the ground to prevent children from gaining access by
crawling under it. Fences can’t have any outcroppings that a child can use as hand or footholds
to climb over it.
Fences must be set back a specific distance away from the pool edge. If by some chance a child
dies manage to breach the barrier, they won’t immediately fall into the swimming pool. There
are also regulations regarding gates. A pool is required to have a gates that opens outward, be
self-closing, and equipped with a self-locking device that can’t be reached by small children.
The law addresses indoor pools in a slightly different manner and has some exceptions. A fence
isn’t required for an indoor pool – provided doors and windows where a child could gain access
are equipped with a wired safety alarm. A self-closing gate and self-latching lock must be
installed a minimum of 54 inches above the ground.
A fence isn’t required for the small, round, shallow pools, commonly known as kiddie pools,
that are used at homes. Private community pools and those utilized in condos and apartment
complexes are exempt from the fencing law. However, those types of pools have even more
stringent laws to which they must comply for child safety.
Public pools are exempt from the fencing law, but owners must comply with the Virginia
Graeme Baker Federal Pool and Spa Safety Act. The Act went into effect on Dec.19, 2008 and
sets standards for drain covers and configurations, along with anti-entrapment systems.
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