Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Swimming Pool Safety Part 2: Protect family and pets from pool accidents with an ICC compliant pool fence


In part 1 of our pool safety blog post, we gave you a checklist of 10 things that you can do to protect your family and pets from accidents around your swimming pool this summer. In this second part, we are going to talk about pool safety fences, specifically what they are and what important features you should be aware of when installing one.

What is a pool safety fence

A pool safety fence is a fence that is designed to make it difficult or impossible for infants/toddlers to gain access to your swimming pool without adult supervision. You might be thinking, "Isn't any fence that I put around my pool considered a pool safety fence"? And the answer is no. For example, a fence that can be easily climbed over or a fence with a gate that remains open will offer very minimal protection.

To ensure that a fence provides an acceptable level of safety, an organization named the International Code Council (ICC) developed a set of pool barrier codes which define a set of minimum standards that a pool fence should meet.
From the ICC Website:
The International Code Council (ICC) is a membership association dedicated to building safety and fire prevention. ICC develops the codes and standards used to construct residential and commercial buildings, including homes and schools.

The International Codes, or I-Codes, published by ICC, provide minimum safeguards for people at home, at school and in the workplace.
Many states and municipalities use the ICC codes as their local codes, but some provide additional restrictions. Always check with your state and local building departments to see if they differ from the ICC Codes.  If they do, then you should follow the local code.


ICC Residential Pool Barrier Code Summary
This discussion assumes that we are talking about fences because they are the most common type of pool barrier. Technically, however, a pool barrier doesn't have to be a fence. For example, a brick wall can be a valid pool barrier as long as it meets the ICC Building Code requirements.

We've also put together a beginner DIY Pool Fence Guide which summarizes the ICC codes in more depth and contains several helpful illustrations.
The following is a summary of some of the most relevant ICC Residential In-Ground Pool Fence Codes.  It is not a complete list. For more information about the ICC or to purchase a copy of the complete ICC Codes, please visit their website at ICC.org.
  • A Pool Fence should have a height equal or greater than 48in.
  • A Pool Fence should not allow an object greater than 4in. in diameter to pass through its openings.
  • A Pool Fence should have a gap no more no more than 2" from the bottom rail to the ground.
  • Pool Fence gates should open outward, away from the pool
  • Pool Fence gates should be self closing, latching, and be able to accomodate a locking device.

    ICC Codes Visualized

    The following images can be used to visualize some of the ICC pool fence codes. They show a fence that exhibits the proper features next to one that does not.


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