by Rob Cox, February 16, 2010
Barriers to Entry -or- Good Fences Make Good Neighbors
Barrier to Entry is the technical term for a good, solid pool fence. There is a difference between a fence and a barrier, however. Fences come in all types of shapes and conditions, but a Barrier, that is meant to keep out non swimmers. Fences may or may not be climbable, a Barrier is not. A fence may have a loose, rickety gate held in place with a bungee cord, but a Barrier - does not. Whether your pool is new or old, take a good look at your "Barrier to Entry" around the pool. Would it keep out inquisitive kids or mischievous teenagers? A good barrier prevents a child from getting over, under or through.
Barriers to Entry are not, however, Barriers to Vision. The Barrier around a pool should not obstruct the view from the house. The more visible the pool is, the safer it is. Pool designers now understand more than ever, that a proper design includes planning for many different views of the pool from different locations around the pool.
Of course, there are many laws in place surrounding the barrier requirement around a swimming pool. The laws are becoming stronger, and even beginning to include small inflatable pools and ponds in some areas. This will undoubtedly continue as it has been proven and reproven that the most successful deterrant to drowning is a good barrier to entry around the body of water.
Some of the Guidelines for Pool Barriers now universally accepted include:
- Fence barriers should be at least 48" high, non- climbable, with openings no wider than 4 inches.
- For chain link fences, the mesh size should be under 1-1/4 inches
- For lattice fences with diagonal members, the opening in the lattice should not exceed 1-3/4 inches.
- Gates should be self-closing and self-latching. Adding a padlock or Gate Alarm is a good idea.
- Gate Latches should be mounted on the top of the fence. Magna-Latch style top release is best.
If a wall of the house serves as part of the barrier, make sure that:
- All doors and windows leading to the pool are equipped with Door Alarms
- Keep doors and windows leading to the pool securely locked.
- Install self closing Door Hinges or pistons to close the doors automatically.
If your pool is an aboveground pool, follow these guidelines:
- Steps to the pool should have a secure gate to prevent access.
- Ladders should flip or rotate to prevent use of the ladder steps.
- If you have a partial deck, also have a secure gate to prevent yard access.
- If you have a larger deck, and it connects to the back wall of the house, follow instructions above, and also install a secondary gate between the house deck and the pool deck.