Pool Barrier Requirements
CHAPTER 15.16.140 of TITLE 15, El DORADO COUNTY ORDINANCE.
BARRIERS FOR SWIMMING POOLS, SPAS AND HOT TUBS
Passed and adopted April 1, 2003, effective May 1, 2003.
California Health and Safety Codes
All swimming pools, spas and hot tubs within the county shall meet the requirements as specified in sections 115920 through 115927 of the California Health and Safety Codes and adding the following:
Sections (c) and (d) of the Health and Safety Code § 115922, may only be used in conjunction with an enclosure (meeting the requirements of section 115923) that isolates the swimming pool, spa or hot tub from adjoining property.
Existing swimming pools, spas and hot tubs on property within the unincorporated areas of this county shall meet the requirements of the Health and Safety Code cited above when an addition, alteration or remodel, of a structure on the property, exceeds twenty thousand dollars ($20,000) in value and a building permit is required for the work. Applicable requirements shall be in place prior to final inspection approval of the new building.
HEALTH AND SAFETY CODE
115920. This act shall be known and may be cited as the Swimming Pool Safety Act.
115921. As used in this article the following terms have the following meanings:
- "Swimming pool" or "pool" means any structure intended for swimming or recreational bathing that contains water over 18 inches deep. "Swimming pool" includes in-ground and above-ground structures and includes, but is not limited to, hot tubs, spas, portable spas, and nonportable wading pools.
- "Public swimming pool" means a swimming pool operated for the use of the general public with or without charge, or for the use of the members and guests of a private club. Public swimming pool does not include a swimming pool located on the grounds of a private single-family home.
(c) "Enclosure" means a fence, wall, or other barrier that isolates a swimming pool from access to the home.
- "Approved safety pool cover" means a manually or power-operated safety pool cover that meets all of the performance standards of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), in compliance with standard F1346-91.
- "Exit alarms" means devices that make audible, continuous alarm sounds when any door or window, that permits access from the residence to the pool area that is without any intervening enclosure, is opened or is left ajar. Exit alarms may be battery operated or may be connected to the electrical wiring of the building.
115922. Commencing January 1, 1998, except as provided in Section 115925, whenever a construction permit is issued for construction of a new swimming pool at a private, single-family home it shall be equipped with at least one of the following safety features:
- The pool shall be isolated from access to a home by an enclosure that meets the requirements of Section 115923.
- The pool shall be equipped with an approved safety pool cover.
- The residence shall be equipped with exit alarms on those doors providing direct access to the pool.
- All doors providing direct access from the home to the swimming pool shall be equipped with a self-closing, self-latching device with a release mechanism placed no lower than 54 inches above the floor.
- Other means of protection, if the degree of protection afforded is equal to or greater than that afforded by any of the devices set forth in subdivisions (a) to (d), inclusive, as determined by the building official of the jurisdiction issuing the applicable building permit. Any ordinance governing child access to pools adopted by a political subdivision on or before January 1, 1997, is presumed to afford protection that is equal to or greater than that afforded by any of the devices set forth in subdivisions (a) to (d), inclusive.
115923. An enclosure shall have all of the following characteristics:
- Any access gates through the enclosure open away from the swimming pool, and are self-closing with a self-latching device placed no lower than 60 inches above the ground.
- A minimum height of 60 inches.
- A maximum vertical clearance from the ground to the bottom of the enclosure of two inches.
- Gaps or voids, if any, do not allow passage of a sphere equal to or greater than four inches in diameter.
(e) An outside surface free of protrusions, cavities, or other physical characteristics that would serve as handholds or footholds that could enable a child below the age of five years to climb over.
115924. Any person entering into an agreement to build a swimming pool shall give the consumer notice of the requirements of this article.
115925. The requirements of this article shall not apply to any of the following:
- Public swimming pools.
- Hot tubs or spas with locking safety covers that comply with the American Society for Testing Materials-Emergency Performance Specification (ASTM-ES 13-89).
- Any pool within the jurisdiction of any political subdivision that adopts an ordinance for swimming pool safety that includes requirements that are at least as stringent as this article.
- An apartment complex, or any residential setting other than a single-family home.
115926. This article does not apply to any facility regulated by the State Department of Social Services even if the facility is also used as the private residence of the operator. Pool safety in those facilities shall be regulated pursuant to regulations adopted therefor by the State Department of Social Services.
115927. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, this article shall not be subject to further modification or interpretation by any regulatory agency of the state, this authority being reserved exclusively to local jurisdictions, as provided for in subdivision (e) of Section 115922 and subdivision (c) of Section 115924.
California Health and Safety Codes
Frequently Asked Questions about Pool Barriers.
When does the pool barrier need to be installed?
A. The pool barrier will need to be installed and inspected prior to the Plaster installation.
Is the portable spa still exempt from the fence requirements?
A. No, the Health & Safety code adopted May 1, 2003 now requires a barrier for portable spas.
If the permit application was submitted or approved prior to May 1, 2003, am I still required to use the new barrier requirements?
A. No, the pools barrier may meet the requirements in effect on the date of the application submittal.
If I choose to use only the door alarms for protection allowed by the Health & Safety Code, am I required to install the barrier also?
A. Yes, El Dorado County adopted an amendment to the Health & Safety Code that requires the pool barrier in addition to the door alarms.
Will our solar cover be acceptable as a required pool cover?
A. Only if the cover also meets the standards found in ASTM standards F1346-91. The cover must be correctly installed per the manufacturers instructions to reduce the risk of drowning by preventing the access of children under five years of age to the water. The cover must be properly constructed to meet ASTM specifications and be labeled accordingly. All ties, anchors or attachment points and controls for automatic covers must be installed in a way to prevent operating or uncovering the pool by children under the age of five. The original design or performance of the cover must meet or exceed testing as prescribed by ASTM standard F1346-91 section 9 Test Methods for Safety Covers.
Will our picket fence with vertical boards 4 inches apart meet the barrier requirement?
A. Only if the horizontal members supporting the pickets are greater than 45 inches between the tops of the members. This precludes young children from using the members as a ladder to climb over the fence. If less than 45 inches the pickets can only have a spacing of 1 3/4 inches as found in specifications of ASTM standards F 1908.
Can I use a chain link fence as a pool barrier?
A. Only if it meets ASTM standards F 1908 for chain link which requires a nominal 1 1/4 inch mesh opening measured between parallel sides of the mesh and a maximum 1 3/4 inches measured horizontally between the corners of the mesh. The mesh may be larger if privacy slats are installed and fastened at the top or bottom to prevent climbing.
Where can I find pool barrier requirements?
A. The county adopted the State of California Health and Safety codes for pool barriers. To define these barrier requirements we use the ASTM Standard Guide for Fences, F-1908-98 except for more restrictive requirements in the California code. These ASTM pool barrier standards were established from studies of drownings and near-drownings and how to prevent them.
Can I put up a temporary barrier for now?
A. Yes, however any barrier that is installed must meet the requirements of Title 15, Chapter 15.16.100 prior to approving the pre-plaster inspection or before placing water in the pool. Remember, if you change the fence to another design later it must meet all the requirements of the ordinance.
Can I use the “no climb” horse fencing for my pool barrier?
A. “No climb” fencing was designed to prevent animals, primarily horses, from being caught in the fence. It has not been reviewed nor tested as a barrier to the pool. Using a study of drowning and near drowning incidents by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, a fence should not have footholds, handholds, and spaces that children under the age of five can use to climb or gain access to the pool. The maximum 1 ¾ inch space is based on the foot width of young children that prevents them gaining a foothold. The 2 inch maximum gap at the bottom of the fence precludes entry under the barrier. The “no climb” horse fence does not meet these requirements as a barrier to the pool.
Will my existing fence work as a barrier if the pool was installed after the fence?
A. If the existing fence meets today’s barrier requirement. Areas that do not meet the requirements will need to be updated to current barrier standards.
Can I use my house alarm in lieu of a separate pool door alarm?
A. Check with your alarm company. On each door to the pool the alarm must remain active at all times and generally the house alarm system does not provide the individual door alarm needed.
What are the requirements for the door alarm?
A. The sound must be of sufficient volume to be heard inside the dwelling. It must start within 7 seconds after the door is opened and sound continuously for a minimum of 30 seconds. The alarm must have a minimum rating of 85 decibels at 10 feet and be distinctive from all other household alarms, telephones, doorbells, etc.. The alarm must automatically reset after each use.
Can I temporarily deactivate the alarm?
A. Each alarm installed must be equipped with a manual means such as a touch pad or switches to temporarily deactivate the alarm for a single opening from either direction. The deactivation can only last for no more than 15 seconds. The pad or switch must be at least 54 inches above the threshold of the door.
When are the door alarms not required?
A. An alarm is not required when a barrier, meeting all the requirements, is installed completely around the pool separating the pool from the house.
Does the door from the garage to the pool area need to be alarmed?
A. An alarm is not required if the door is self-closing and self-latching with the latching device more than 54 inches above the floor or grade. Any door from the house into the pool area meeting these requirements may be used in lieu of the door alarm.
Why does the barrier gate open outward now?
A. Studies show when a gate opens outward and the latch fails to operate, a child who pushes inward on the gate cannot immediately access the pool and may even re-engage the latch.
What are the requirements of the pool barrier gate?
A. The gate shall open outward, be self-closing, and self-latching. The latching device must be 60 inches above the grade or walkway and be located on the pool side of the gate a minimum of 3 inches below the top. The fence and gate shall not have any openings greater than ½ inch within 18 inches of the release mechanism when closed. There must not be any space greater than 2 inches below the gate to grade.
What if I have an RV double leaf gate to the pool area?
A. The gates must meet all the requirements of the pool barrier and be equipped with a padlock or similar locking device that is locked at all times.
Where else can I get information concerning pool barriers?