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Neighbors of Kane County

Swimming pool barriers are required safety features

Jul 07, 2017 08:30AM ● By Neighbors Magazines

by Toby Petrie

The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that annually there are more than 356 pool or spa-related drownings for children younger than 15. Safety barriers are an integral defense to reduce the possibility of accidental drowning. For residential pools, the city of Batavia currently enforces requirements from the city’s zoning code, the 2006 International Residential Code and the 2006 International Property Maintenance Code.

Per the 2006 IRC, a “Swimming Pool” is defined as, “Any structure intended for swimming or recreational bathing that contains water over 24" (610 mm) deep. This includes in-ground, above-ground and on-ground swimming pools, hot tubs and spas.”

All swimming pools require a safety barrier at least 48" in height around the entire perimeter of the structure. There are many types of code-compliant safety barriers, including the wall of an above-ground swimming pool with a top edge at least 48” above grade.

If the proposed barrier is a fence:

• The top of the fence must be at least 48" above grade. There may be no more than 2" of space between the bottom of the fence and the ground. Where there are decorative cutouts within vertical members, spacing within the cutouts shall not exceed 1¾" wide.

• If the fence includes horizontal and vertical members, and:

• The distance between horizontal members is at least 45"; the vertical

members (spindles, balusters) must have less than 4" open space between them.

• The distance between horizontal members is less than 45"; the horizontal members must be located on the swimming pool side of the fence and spacing between vertical members may not exceed 1¾" in width.

Other fence requirements include:

• May not include “toe-holds”, creating a potentially “climbable” barrier.

• Maximum opening in chain link fencing is 2¼", unless the fence has slats fastened at the top or the bottom which reduce the openings to not more than 1¾".

• Maximum openings in wood or plastic lattice—1¾".

Where the house wall serves as part of the safety barrier, the pool must be provided with a powered safety cover—or any doors with direct access to the pool must be provided with code-compliant audible alarms.

Access gates:

• Must meet all of the previously noted fence requirements.

• Must be at least 48" in height.

• Must open away from the pool.

• Must be self closing and self latching.

• Must include a locking mechanism located at least 54" above grade or at least 3" below the top of the gate, with less than ½" openings in the area within 18" of the latching mechanism.

For more information, visit the website or our Community Development / Applications and Handouts section at:

Toby Petrie is the City of Batavia Building Inspector