Are Pool Fences Needed With an Automatic Pool Cover?

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Pools are fun but they can also be dangerous. If you have children in your household, then taking measures to keep them away from the pool when you’re not around should be of concern to you. Now, many people have automatic pool covers installed in their pool and wonder if that can do the job of protecting children from drowning.

Pool fences are mandatory for swimming pools regardless of the presence of pool cover or not. Any pool that has a water depth between 10 to 18 inches must have a fence, wall, or any type of barrier around it. The barrier must be capable enough to prevent access by children.

People often have a dilemma about installing a fence around their pool when they already have a pool cover. This notion is very risky and can cost lives.

In this article, I will explain whether or not do you need a fence if you have a pool cover. Plus, I will also talk about the criteria of a competent pool fence and give you some extra tips about maximizing pool safety.

Pool Cover vs Pool Fence

Pool covers are the relatively latest invention. They can be automatic or manual. Automatic pool covers just need a press of a button to work.

Manual pool covers, as the name suggests, need to be manually stretched to cover and uncover the pool. Their prices vary depending on the size, material, and whether automated or not.

Pool covers are an optional component of a swimming pool. They offer tons of utility, but using a pool cover isn’t mandatory in any region. Covering the pool with covers has a few benefits.

They retain heat quite well so you can save on your electricity bill. Pool covers prevent water loss due to heat and at the same time, minimize chemical consumption.

Despite all the benefits above, pool covers aren’t compulsory. You can install them if you want. It all depends on your budget and desire.

Pool fences are an enclosure surrounding the pool. The enclosure can be anything like a solid concrete wall with a gate, grill, or mesh fence. The only purpose behind a pool fence is saving the lives of children.

There are different rules regarding pool fences in different regions. But all of them are primarily focused on children’s safety.

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Do You Really Need a Fence If You Have a Pool Cover?

Having a swimming pool in the backyard is always a great addition to a house. You can have a pool party with your friends and family, drench yourself on a hot summer day or just chill by the side of it in the evening. A swimming pool also increases the value of your property in the real estate market.

But this great addition to your house can be a site of a tragedy. Yes, I am talking about drowning. Drowning can kill someone in less than two minutes. Children are more vulnerable to it. In the USA, about 400 children die by drowning in swimming pools each year, so can a pool cover replace a fence?

A pool fence is strictly for children’s safety whereas a pool cover is an optional attachment. Pool covers can retain heat and minimize water and chemical wastage, but they are not capable enough to prevent accidental drowning. On top of that, pool covers aren’t functional throughout the day as the pool remains exposed most of the time.

A fence around the pool is a permanent structure. It acts as a passive barrier round the clock. To ensure total safety, the gates need to be closed at times when the pool is not being used.

A pool fence is mandatory by law in almost every region. So, whether you have a pool cover or not, you must install a fence around your swimming pool.

So, if you are still wondering if a pool cover can replace a fence, no it absolutely cannot.

Requirements of a Pool Fence

The requirements of a pool fence differ by law in different regions. Typically, any pool that has a water depth between 10 to 18 inches must have a fence. The laws differ slightly although the theme is the same.

For your convenience, I will talk about the specifications mandated by the International Code Council (ICC) under the international building code section 305. The laws are quite elaborated so I will drop the gist here. Let’s begin:

  • The top of the fence should not be less than 48 inches measuring from the bottom of the fence.
  • The clearance between the bottom of the fence and the surface on which it is installed should be between 2 to 4 inches. This is to prevent children from crawling underneath.
  • If there are openings in the barrier, they should not be more than 4 inches.
  • Solid barriers should not have any protrusion that can be used to climb the barrier.
  • The gate should be locked all the time when the pool is not being used.
  • Multiple gates must have at least a single leaf securely in place. Any other leaf should be secured using a self-latching device.
  • The release mechanism of the Self-latching device should be located no less than 54 inches from the surface on the opposite side of the pool.
  • On the side of the pool, the release mechanism should be located not less than 3 inches from the top.
  • If one side of an infrastructure acts as one side of the barrier; doors, and windows on that side should be equipped with audible water hazard alarms.
  • The windows of that side should be at least 48 inches from the bottom.

These laws are updated every 3 years so make sure to follow the latest rules.

How Can You Maximize Pool Safety?

Despite installing pool fences, accidents still can happen. But there are other ways you can adopt to maximize your pool safety. Here’s how:

  • Install motion detector CCTV cameras near the pool.
  • Never leave any children unattended when near the proximity of the pool.
  • Don’t leave anything near the fence that can be used to climb the fence.
  • Regularly check the locking mechanism of the pool gate.
  • Install door alarms on the pool gate.
  • Install alarms on any access point leading to the pool area.
  • Use an automatic pool cover with a self-timer.
  • Empty the pool if you are away from home.

The Pool Care Handbook and Video Course

Frustrated trying to keep your pool clear? Feeling confused about when to add the right chemicals?

This guide cuts out all the confusion of pool maintenance in this easy-to-read illustrated ebook and video course. It’ll help you save $100 right away on pool care!

Do You Need a Pool Fence for Unconventional Types of Pools?

There are atypical pools such as above-ground pools, portable pools or Jacuzzi and hot tubs, etc. Different regions have different laws regarding those.

In most cases, you will need to have a fence around above-ground pools or at least some sort of security measure that can prevent children’s access to the pool.

It isn’t mandatory to have a fence around Portable pools such as hot tubs or Jacuzzis. However, when the pool is in use, any children near should be strictly supervised. When not in use, the tub should be emptied.

Conclusion

It doesn’t matter if you have a pool cover or not. But having a pool fence is a must. That’s why in this write-up, I have tried to explain why do you need a fence if you have a pool cover. Also provided useful advice on enhancing your pool safety.

I believe this article was of help for you to make up your mind on the matter. Don’t be late on building that fence around your pool!

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