On January 1, 1998, the Health and Safety Code made it compulsory for a swimming pool to be surrounded by at least one or more safety barriers. Reasons being, the fence ensures the safety of the neighboring children. Pool owners are advised to ensure that the pool fence gates and ladders have latches that small children cannot reach. And when the pool is not in use, all doors should be kept locked including the pet doors leading to the pool. The same should also apply to spas and wading pools because they are just as dangerous. California laws allow swimming pool or full safety covers that prevent children from falling into the pool. Swimming pool owners are also permitted to use removable mesh fence, latching devices, alarms and any other safety barrier provided it’s approved by local building officials. But, if you are to install an alarm, don’t forget to place the on and off switch far from children’s reach.

Pool Fencing Law in California

The Swimming Pool Safety Act is a code of conduct to which all owners of a pool must follow. This Act describes a swimming pool/pool as any place with water of more than 18 inches deep and is intended for recreational purposes. That includes the spas, hot tubs, and wading pools. Here are the regulations outlined in this Act.

Laws on Safety Requirements for New Pools

New or remodeled swimming pools and spas must have a second safety feature to prevent children from drowning. This is the main requirement which took effect on January 1st 2018. Previously, the state law required a pool to have at least one safety barrier. Some of the drowning safety features include;

  • A safety cover that is approved by the local building officials
  • Exit alarms to be installed on home doors which provide direct access to the swimming pool
  • An alarm that’ll go on when there is the detection of an accident or in case of unauthorized entrance into the water. The alarm should be certified by ASTM.

Requirements of the Enclosure

The Swimming Pool Safety Act outlines the characteristic of an enclosure which are:

  • Should be at least 60 inches
  • Gates through the enclosure that are away from the swimming pool should be self-closing with a self-latching device placed not less than 60 inches above the ground
  • No sphere that is 4 inches or above should be allowed to pass through gaps and voids
  • From the ground to the bottom of the enclosure, there should be a 2-inch vertical clearance
  • An outside surface that doesn’t have protrusions or cavities, which will act as handholds or footholds for children below five years to climb over, should be included

Laws on the Swimming Pool Contractors

The California pool laws direct any person who builds a swimming pool or a spa or individuals who engage in spa works that have been permitted, to issue a notice of the requirements of this act to the consumers. The Department of Health Services has placed safety pool information on the department’s website for consumers to download. Pool owners are recommended to share the info with consumers concerning the possible dangers of swimming pool and spas to small children.

Requirements on Construction of a New Pool

If there’s a permit issued that approves the construction of a new pool or spa, the spa or pool should meet the following requirements:

  • The suction outlets for the pool or spa shall circulate water throughout
  • One pump should serve a maximum of two circulation outlets, and they shall be hydraulically balanced, and the plumbing should be symmetrical and through one or more “T” fittings
  • Sections 3124B of Chapter 31B of the California Building Standard Code requires that the circulation system to have the capacity to supply the water throughout
  • All suction outlets must be covered with anti-entrapment grates
  • Should the owner want to install any back-up system in addition to the above requirement, it must meet the standards as in the publications called Making Pools and Spas Safer by the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission

Laws on Remodel/Modification of an Existing Pool

If there’s a permit issued for modification of an existing swimming pool or a spa, the permit directs that the suction outlet(s) of the pool/spa to be upgraded for them to be equipped with anti-entrapment grates. The above is just a summary of the California pool fence laws. It is best that if you are a swimming pool owner, or you are planning to build one, to read the Swimming Pool Safety Act all by yourself to avoid any problems with the state.


Keep Your Pool Safe – Get A Pool Fence!