by : Rachaelle Lynn
Swimming Pool Safety: A Guide to Fencing
Purchasing safety fencing for your swimming pool is an investment in the health and safety of your family, friends, and even your neighbors. The primary concern for most homeowners is that a small child will fall into their swimming pool and drown, but safety fences also protect the elderly, family pets, and wildlife. Whether you have children or not, pool safety fencing is something you should seriously consider. In fact, it may even be required by your city, homeowner’s association, or homeowner’s insurance policy.
If you have children, perhaps you’ve been proactive in getting them swimming lessons. While this is a solid protective measure, it isn’t a fail-safe method of ensuring that your child doesn’t drown in a swimming pool. Children require protective measures they can’t bypass, including fencing, as well as constant adult supervision when in or near a swimming pool.
If you don’t have children, you may still be required to install a swimming pool fence, depending on your geographic location; even if it’s not mandatory, remember that civil liability could be an issue. Add to this the potential trauma of a neighborhood child drowning in your pool, and fencing becomes an investment in your peace of mind.
Having decided to purchase swimming pool fencing, you are now confronted with a series of choices about types of fencing to buy. You’ll want to consider aesthetics, security, strength, UV and rust protection, and, of course, budget. Budget is determined primarily by the materials used and the required length, as most types of fencing will accommodate various shapes.
Here is a brief description of types and features of available swimming pool fencing:
- Mesh fencing: Designed to be climb-resistant, mesh fencing is an attractive option because it is transparent and easily removable. It can be used with automatic or manual gates and locks. Look for fiberglass or aluminum support posts for rust-proof, maintenance-free mesh fencing.
- Aluminum fencing: Strong, attractive, and durable, aluminum pool fencing can be installed by do-it-yourselfers with relatively little time and frustration. There is a huge variety of styles, heights, colors, and grades available, so doing your homework will ensure that you are happy with your choice. It can provide a rich complement to landscaping when incorporated into garden design. Aluminum fencing will not rust, chip or crack.
- Steel fencing: Aluminum fencing is a common substitute for steel fencing because of its lighter weight, but some homeowners still prefer the look of steel, or wrought-iron, fencing. Though expensive, it’s a popular choice when a homeowner installs a pool and wrought iron is already featured in other areas, because of the desire to match materials. Both aluminum and steel pool fencing can be powder-colored in a variety of colors.
- Vinyl fencing: Vinyl fencing sections are typically purchased in eight-foot sections, which are easily cut down to accommodate the required size. Vinyl offers a clean, fresh look and is maintenance-free and inexpensive compared to wood or metal fencing. Look for an aluminum insert in the bottom rail, which provides additional stability and is especially useful if you live in an area where high winds occur.
- Above ground pool fencing: As you would expect from the name, this type of fencing is specific to above-ground pools. While some people make the mistake of believing that children can’t climb into an above ground pool from the ground, the creativity and curiosity of children means that installation of a fence on your above-ground pool is just as important as it is for an in-ground pool. It also provides additional privacy when you use your pool. Above ground pool fence is typically available in 24- or 36-inch height and made of taupe or white vinyl, also known as resin. Vinyl’s advantages include being lightweight but sturdy, as well as rust-proof and maintenance-free. Easy to install, resin fencing for above-ground pools is purchased in sections. Molded mounting brackets make installation easy and provide a strong barrier. Look for molded caps and stainless steel hardware for an attractive appearance. Fence/deck and ladder/step connection kits are also available.
You may have options to consider when buying a swimming pool gate as well. Self-locking gates are available, or you can select a gate lock that requires a key or combination. If you choose the latter, look for a lock you can use from both sides of the gate for extra security and convenience. Whatever lock you choose for your gate, be sure it’s secure and that every adult family member, as well as older children in the family, understands when and how to use it.
Fencing can be used in combination with other measures to keep your swimming pool safe, such as pool alarms and safety covers, but remember, there is no substitute for alert adult supervision whenever a child is in or around your swimming pool.
Reprinted with Permission