Backyard swimming pools provide hours of fun and healthy exercise for people of all ages. Unfortunately, pools and spas also have the potential to cause injury and death when they are misused or if proper safety precautions are not taken. This means both installing adequate safety equipment and ensuring that the pool or spa is used correctly and with appropriate supervision for children.
State law requires anyone engaged in Arizona pool construction to give pool and spa buyers “a notice explaining safety education and responsibilities of pool ownership,” but too often pool safety education – and common sense – are ignored.
As anyone who watches local Valley news broadcasts knows, the main threat posed by swimming pools is drowning. Despite continuing public education campaigns designed to put an end to them, many pool drownings occur every year in the Phoenix metropolitan area. Also common are near-drownings, which can cause serious brain damage to survivors due to prolonged oxygen deprivation.
Small children who can’t swim obviously should not be have free access to a swimming pool, and even older children who know how to swim should use a pool only under adult supervision. In fact, adult awareness and supervision should be considered the first line of defense against pool accidents. No safety equipment can completely take the place of a responsible person keeping tabs on children’s whereabouts. That said, safety features are still important, and many are required by law.
For almost 20 years, Arizona statutes have required newly constructed pools at private residences with children under 6 years old to be surrounded by a fence at least 5 feet high. The state law does not apply retroactively to pools constructed prior to June 1990, but local governments are free to pass more stringent requirements, and many have. A Scottsdale or Mesa swimming pool, for instance, must be surrounded by a 5-foot (or higher) fence regardless of whether children live in the home. In Peoria, a fence is required if the residence has children under age 7. Despite any legal exceptions, however, the most prudent thing homeowners can do is to enclose their pools.
Pool fences should not have openings exceeding 4 inches, nor should they have horizontal bars on the outside of the fence that are spaced closely enough to aid in climbing. Mesh (chain-link) fences should have a mesh size no greater than 1.75 inches, also to deter climbing. The inside of any pool fence should be at least 20 inches from the edge of the water, and the outside should not be placed close to any structure in the yard, such as a playhouse, that could serve as a “stepping stone” to climbing over it. In addition to fence specifications, state and local laws also have other requirements aimed at restricting access to swimming pools:
- Any gates in the pool fence must open outward from the pool area and be self-closing and self-latching, with the latch at least 54 inches from the ground
- If the back wall of the house makes up part of the pool enclosure, there must be either:
a) a 4-foot fence between the house and the pool that meets all the other pool fence requirements as to bar/mesh spacing, etc., or
b) all self-closing, self-latching doors leading to the pool area (with no doggie doors), or
c) a motorized, key-switched pool safety cover
Hop Cassidy Pools has been building and remodeling pools in the Phoenix area for more than 25 years. We specialize in custom pool design and the construction of luxury pools for individual homeowners as well as for some of the Valley’s best contractors. Call us today at 480-905-8780 for a free initial consultation and price quote on your own very own swimming pool – one that’s designed and built using the highest standards of quality and safety by the professionals at Hop Cassidy Pools.