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Rural Health Information Hub

Pool Fencing to Prevent Drowning

Adequate pool fencing surrounds a pool on all sides. It is the most studied and effective drowning prevention strategy for children. Rural programs seeking to prevent drowning may use safety regulations to guide the development of pool fencing and other barriers at private residences, community pools, and spas.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission's (CPSC) Safety Barrier Guidelines for Residential Pools booklet provides tips for creating and maintaining effective barriers for pools and spas to prevent child drownings. The CPSC recommends that pool fences should be:

  • Four feet or higher and fully encloses the pool
  • Climb-resistant, with no objects such as lawn furniture nearby that could be used to climb
  • Self-closing and self-latching
  • Without footholds or handholds that could be used to climb
  • Completely isolating the pool from a structure and yard

Other protection measures that may complement but cannot replace adequate pool fencing include:

  • Door alarms on all doors leading to the pool area, especially for areas where a structure serves as one side of the barrier
  • Automatic and weight-bearing pool covers

Implementation Considerations

Laws and regulations regarding pool fencing vary by state and municipality and are often not regularly enforced. Rural programs looking to prevent drowning should consider contacting local municipal offices to verify pool fencing codes at the state and county levels. In addition, rural programs should consider working with local community leaders to educate community members on local pool fencing codes and the importance of pool fencing.

Rural programs can also seek to inspect and enforce pool fencing requirements. These requirements can be adopted from state pool fencing codes, CPSC's Safety Barrier Guidelines for Residential Pools booklet and the Model Aquatic Health Code (MAHC). The MAHC was developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and offers the latest evidence-based practices to promote safety in public pools, hot tubs, and water playgrounds.

Adopting pool fencing requirements from the MAHC and Safety Barrier Guidelines for Residential Pools booklet will ensure that rural programs enforce fencing codes and guidelines that promote safety and reduce the risk of drowning. Rural programs should consider electing members of the community to enforce pool fencing codes in neighborhoods.

Pool fencing installations can be expensive for families. The average pool fencing installation can cost up to $10,000. Rural programs may want to consider partnering with local pool fencing contractors or home improvement stores to install pool fencing for free or at discounted rates for families in need.

Resources to Learn More

Pool Dangers and Drowning Prevention-When It's Not Swimming Time
Explains the importance of prevention methods, such as installing fencing around swimming pools to prevent drowning, and the evidence supporting its effectiveness.
Organization(s):, American Academy of Pediatrics