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Navigating California’s Pool Safety Laws

Navigating California’s Pool Safety Laws

Many California homeowners are reviewing the safety of their pool areas and are considering a pool safety fence to ensure that people and pets are kept safe. In large part, the state’s pool fence regulations exist to prevent childhood drownings and injuries. In 2021, 49 children from 0-5 years old died from accidental deaths in pools and other items (like spas) just in California per the Department of Developmental Services. Both new and existing pool owners need to understand the legal requirements. Let’s explore the key specifics.

Why California Regulates Pool Fences

After increased drowning incidents involving home pools in the 1990s, California established its Swimming Pool Safety Act. This law has evolved over time to bolster protection, with the latest revisions effective January 2018. The regulations align with national safety standards recommended by organizations like the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The goal is simple – prevent accidental pool-related injuries and fatalities, especially for young children.

4 Standards for Pool Fences

The California law mandates that any home swimming pool or spa exceeding 18 inches in depth must have a protective enclosure or fence meeting these criteria:

  • At least 60 inches tall, to deter climbing over
  • No more than a 2-inch gap at the bottom, to avoid squeezing under
  • No more than 4 inches between vertical pickets
  • A self-latching gate that swings outward and automatically closes
  • Smooth exterior with no handholds or footholds for climbing

Plus, pools need two of the following added safety features:

  • Door alarms on the private single-family home’s doors that provide access to the swimming pool or spa.
  • A self-closing, self-latching device with a release mechanism placed no lower than 54 inches above the floor on the private single-family home’s doors providing direct access to the swimming pool or spa.
  • Removable mesh fencing with self-latching gate
  • An approved safety pool cover
  • A pool immersion alarm- when placed in a swimming pool or spa, will sound upon detection of accidental or unauthorized entrance into the water.

Get HOA Approval

If you live in a community with a homeowners association, get their blessing before installing or modifying pool fencing. Comply with any HOA rules pertaining to aesthetics, materials, height or placement. This prevents issues later on.

Inspections During Home Sales

When selling a home with a pool or spa, California requires inspectors to examine the safety features and fence enclosure before the buyer’s final walkthrough. This verifies compliance with all legal qualifications.

Research Local Building Codes

Along with the California state law, also investigate local statutes related to pool fences. Some municipalities impose extra regulations beyond the state standards. Contact your city or county building department for specifics.

Keeping your pool and spas safe from curious children and pets is an important responsibility. Even if your children are avid swimmers it is still your responsibility to keep the area safe for others who may not be good swimmers. A couple examples of this are our customers who install pool safety fences so they can rest assured that the friends of their children and relatives over for parties are kept safe. We look forward to the opportunity to review your pool fence options with you and customize a plan that works functionally and aesthetically!