Tag Archive for: barriers

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, drowning is the number one cause of unintentional death for children between the ages of 1 and 4. Most of these drowning deaths happen in home swimming pools which is why swimming pool barriers are so important in preventing unintentional drowning incidents.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has also shared the following statistics in the Pool or Spa Submersion: Estimated Nonfatal Drowning Injuries and Reported Drownings, 2022 Report :

  • On average, three hundred eighty-nine pool- or spa-related fatal drownings were registered between 2017 to 2019.
  • Seventy-five percent of fatal pool accidents of children 15 and under occurred at residential locations (home pool or neighbor’s pool).
  • Seventy-three percent of swimming pool drowning deaths involved children younger than five.
  • Seventeen percent of swimming pool-related drowning deaths among children younger than 15 happened in an above-ground pool.
  • Nine percent of those pediatric drowning deaths occurred in portable pools.
  • Pool- or spa-related, hospital-department-treated, nonfatal drowning injuries involving children younger than 15 years of age spiked 17 percent in 2021 with 6,800 injuries reported, compared to 2020 with 5,800.

Many of these drowning tragedies can be prevented by implementing swimming pool barriers and additional layers of protection

What are swimming pool barriers?

If you have a swimming pool on your property, you must take measures to keep your kids safe. The first measure is installing proper swimming pool barriers.

A swimming pool barrier is any physical barrier that separates the water from the rest of the yard or surrounding area, thus making it difficult for small children and animals to access the pool area. 

These physical barriers are an effective way to prevent unauthorized and unsupervised entry to the water.

Types of Swimming Pool Barriers

Swimming pool barriers can restrict access to the perimeter surrounding the pool (gate or fence) or directly limit access to the water (pool covers). Door alarms can also be considered as swimming pool barriers.

Pool Gates and Fences

All residential pools and spas should be surrounded on all four sides by a 4-foot tall fence with a self-closing and self-latching locking device. 

Families with young children and pets should install isolation fencing that separates the pool or spa area from the house or other structures. It should also restrict unauthorized access from neighbors’ yards, nearby buildings, and from inside the house. 

The latch release on all gates and fences should be at least 54 inches from the ground and entirely out of the reach of children. If a locking latch is used, it should be kept locked. Just be sure to store the key out of children’s reach and ensure all adults know where you keep it in an emergency. 

Gates should also open away from the pool and should never be propped open. When shut, pool owners must double-check the gates to confirm that the latching mechanism is securely fastened and that the gate was not accidentally left open. The pool gate should always be locked, mainly when the pool is not in use, to prevent kids from gaining access to the water.

Bear in mind that small children are curious and resourceful. Make sure any furniture that can be moved to serve as a ladder is kept outside the pool area, at least 4 feet away from the swimming pool barrier. Also, ensure that children and animals cannot dig soil loose from under the pool fence to crawl through to the other side.

Pool Covers

Safety covers are another layer of protection that can provide safety when the pool is not in use. They should cover the entire surface of the pool and be anchored securely.

When considering a pool safety cover, choose one that meets the ASTM International voluntary standard F1346-91 , a document that establishes safety cover requirements for swimming pools, spas, hot tubs, and wading pools. 

It’s also essential that covers are used and maintained correctly, such as promptly removing any rainwater that it has collected and not allowing children to play on it regardless of its stated weight allowance.

Door Alarms

If your home serves as one side of the swimming pool barrier, consider installing alarms on all doors leading to the pool area. 

Door alarms can help alert adults if and when a child goes near the pool area.

Safety Codes and Regulations for Pool Barriers

Sadly, no federal swimming pool barriers law exists in the United States. Without a legal framework that clearly defines residential pool owners’ guidelines to ensure safety, consumer and aquatic organizations have redacted and shared their own. 

Many communities have enacted safety regulations for barriers meant to keep residential in-ground and above-ground swimming pools safe. Parents who own these pools must implement the five layers of protection needed to reduce the chances of their kiddos accessing the family pool or spa without supervision and should be familiar with the following documents:

Safety Barrier Guidelines for Residential Pools

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has published a guide that outlines pool barrier guidelines that can help prevent drowning incidents involving young children by preventing them from entering the pool area without being supervised by an adult. They consider the variety of swimming pool barriers available and where each might be vulnerable to a child wanting to get on the other side.

The International Swimming Pool and Spa Code 

The ISPSC is also an important document to consider.  Written by the International Code Council and the Pool and Hot tub Alliance, it contains everything a pool contractor needs to make a residential swimming pool safe and operate efficiently. 

The adoption of the ISPSC can reduce drowning accidents by requiring barriers, compliant design, and slopes for entry and exit, work towards the elimination of entrapment incidents once and for all, and ensure that pools and spas are built using approved and safe materials. As a uniform building code adopted in 20 states and 171 local jurisdictions, the ISPSC plays a vital role in safeguarding backyard pools and spas throughout the country.

The Safety Benefits of Pool Fencing and Gates

A successful pool barrier prevents a child from getting over, under, and through a fence or gate. It also keeps kids from gaining access to the pool except when supervising adults are present. 

Regarding water safety, there is no such thing as being too cautious. A pool barrier is the first layer of protection needed to prevent accidental drownings. According to the CDC, having a swimming pool security fence reduces the likelihood of childhood drownings by 83%.

In addition to keeping kids and animals out, swimming pool barriers can also help keep debris and leaves from blowing into the pool. This can help keep the pool clean and reduce the time you must spend cleaning it.

Installing a swimming pool barrier is a simple and effective way to increase water safety in your backyard. Consider implementing safety measures at home for your family and reduce the chance of drowning.

Drowning is a leading cause of death for young children. Be aware of the potential risks and prevent unsupervised access to water. This includes in-ground and above ground pools and spas, portable pools, bath tubs, buckets and other bodies of water, such as rivers, lakes, ponds and canals.


  • Drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury deaths for children 1 to 14 years of age and kills more children ages 1 to 4 than anything else except for birth defects. On average, three children die each day from drowning.
  • ​Drowning risks vary by age
    o Children younger than 1 year old are more likely to drown at home. 
    o Children between 1 and 4 years of age are more likely to drown in a home swimming pool or spa. 
    o Those 5 to 17 years old are more likely to drown in natural water, such as a pond or lake. 
  • Lack of barriers to prevent unsupervised water access is a main factor in many drowning incidents.
  • Pool and spa drownings occur in public and private settings, in backyard in-ground and above-ground pools, kids’ pools, apartment complexes and hotels. 
  • The US Consumer Product Safety Commission says that nearly 70% of young children who drowned in swimming pools were not expected to be in or at the pool.  
  • After pools, bathtubs are the second leading location where young children drown. However, buckets, bath seats, wells, cisterns, septic tanks, decorative ponds, and toilets, are also potential drowning sources for infants and toddlers.


  • Check for water hazards in your setting, such as an unfenced pool, liquid-filled buckets or an ornamental pond, then take appropriate precautions to prevent unsupervised access. 
  • ​Childproof your home against water hazards from bathtubs, bath seats, toilets and buckets:
    o Place locks on toilet seat covers in case a young child wanders into the bathroom. 
    o Empty unattended buckets containing even a small amount of liquid immediately after use, including buckets outside that can collect rainwater. Toddlers are top heavy and can easily fall headfirst into buckets and drown. After using a bucket, always empty and store it inside or where young children cannot reach it. 
    o Drain all water from portable and inflatable kiddie pools, and flip them over so they cannot collect rainwater.  
  • If you have a pool, spa or ornamental pond at home:
    o Install a fence that is at least 4-feet high, and completely separates the water from the house and yard. Use self-closing and self-latching gates that open outward, with latches that are out of reach of children. See CPSC Safety Barrier Guidelines for Residential Pools for details.
    o In addition to a fence, install additional layers of protection, such as automatic door locks and alarms to prevent access and to alert you if someone exits the home and enters the pool area.
    o Install and use a door or pool alarm, and/or a pool or spa cover if the house serves as part of a pool or spa fence.
    o Make sure that pool or spa covers can support the weight of a child and not allow access to the water.
    o Remove floats, balls and other toys from the pool and surrounding area immediately after use so children are not tempted to enter the pool area unsupervised.
    o For above-ground pools, the pool structure itself is a barrier, however be sure to prevent young children from climbing up into the pool by securing, locking or removing steps and ladders. 
    o Be aware of pet doors that lead directly to a pool or other backyard body of water. A fence between the house and the pool is a must if there is a cat or dog door.
  • If you have natural water on your property or near your home, such as a pond, river, lake, stream or canal, or if you have a neighbor with an unfenced pool or spa: 
    o Install fencing between the house and the water that prevents children from accessing the water without adult supervision.
    o Check your local building codes for requirements for residential fencing and housing complexes.
  • If you are away from home near bodies of water, such as a river, lake, pond, canal, or ocean shore: 
    o Set expectations and rules for children regarding going in or near the water, and strictly enforce them.
    o Closely and continuously monitor anyone who is unable to recognize the danger that water may pose—especially young children. Children can disappear quickly and are attracted to water. Don’t assume that a fence, sign, or verbal warning will keep children away from the water.
    o Swim only in designated swimming areas supervised by lifeguards or other undistracted water watchers who are capable of performing a water rescue.
    o Make sure that those with sufficient skill and maturity to participate in approved activities, such as swimming, boating, or fishing, are doing so in a safe area with appropriate supervision, such as lifeguards, and appropriate equipment, such as life jackets.  
    o When in, on, or near the water, insist that children and weak or non-swimmers wear properly-fitted U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets that are appropriate for their weight and water activity.
  • Know how to provide proper supervision for children under your care in or near the water:
    o Become water competent and learn to swim.
    o Understand how risks vary with conditions, such as water depth, water clarity and currents, and adjust supervision and activities accordingly. For example, by choosing a safe swimming area or having participants wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket. 
    o Learn CPR and basic rescue skills.
    o Always designate a water watcher when in or near water. 
       – Practice touch supervision while bathing the very young.
       – In a pool, keep young children within arm’s reach.
       – Avoid distractions, such as phone calls or texts.
       – Don’t leave a young child unattended, or under the care of another child, even for a moment.  

Media Advisory on Proper Terminology Drowning is not always a fatal event. Some people die as a result of drowning, while others survive with serious, life-long injuries, or none at all. Thus, the term “drowning” should not be used to imply death. According to the World Health Organization: “Drowning is the process of experiencing respiratory impairment from submersion/immersion in liquid. Drowning outcomes are classified as death, morbidity and no morbidity. Agreed terminology is essential to describe the problem and to allow effective comparisons of drowning trends. Thus, this definition of drowning adopted by the 2002 World Congress on Drowning should be widely used.” 

About the Authors of this Document: Water Safety USA is a consortium of leading national governmental and nongovernmental organizations with a strong record of providing drowning prevention and water safety programs. Our mission is to empower people with resources, information, and tools to safely enjoy and benefit from our nation’s aquatic environments. Our membership is as follows:

American Academy of Pediatrics
American Red Cross
Boy Scouts of America
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Drowning Prevention Alliance
National Park Service
National Safe Boating Council
Pool and Hot Tub Alliance
Safe Kids Worldwide
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
U.S. Coast Guard
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
United States Lifesaving Association
USA Swimming Foundation
YMCA of the USA