A guide to pool fence requirements in California

The requirements for pool fencing in California have changed dramatically over the last few years in response to an increased need for additional safety. These regulations continue to be updated to help reduce the number of drownings.

Knowing the pool fence regulations before you start designing will not only improve safety but it will also create a more functional and visually appealing outdoor space.

What types of pools require fencing in California

In California, any pool regardless of its size or shape built or remodeled after 2007 requires a pool fence. This includes spas and portable, in-ground or inflatable pools that contain over 18 inches of water.

Pool fence regulations – the basics

Pool Fence Regulations 02
Metal pool fence with Jericho limestone stairs by Growing Rooms

For pools or spas built or remodeled after Jan 1 2018 in California state now must have a second safety feature in order to comply.

If you have an existing pool or installing a new one, owners will need to install at least two of these safety features to be compliant:

  1. A fence that is over 60 inches and surrounds the pool or spa and isolates it from the house. It must be fitted with a gate that opens out, away from the pool with a latch fitted 60 inches off the ground. Gaps in the fence must not allow a 4-inch diameter sphere to penetrate and no handholds or objects such as pots that would allow a child to climb over the fence are permitted.
  2. An approved pool cover or self-locking spa cover designed for safety.
  3. A removable mesh fence that meets American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) Specifications F2286 standards and features a self-closing and self-latching gate. The gate also requires a key lockable device.
  4. Exit alarms fitted on any doors that have direct access to the pool or spa.
  5. Any doors that provide direct access to the pool or spa must be self-closing and feature a self-latching device that is fitted over 54 inches high.
  6. An alarm that is fitting in the pool that detects when a person enters the pool. This does not include alarms worn by the child and must comply with the ASTM Standard F2208 “Standard Safety Specification for Residential Pool Alarms”.
  7. Another approved safety device that exceeds California’s previous pool fencing regulations.

Starting with the pool fence

One of the first things homeowners tend to think about when visualizing a pool is the size and the location. However, a swimming pool is never complete without a pool fence and while they’re sometimes deemed an eye saw, they are necessary to comply with current safety regulations.

Thinking about the pool fence and how it will fit into your outdoor space should be your first consideration. This way you can work out how to place the pool fencing so that it flows with the architecture and the garden without impeding on your space. Once you’ve decided on the best position for the pool fence, you can design the pool around it.

Be inspired by these pool fences that won’t distract from your garden’s aesthetics. 

General owner pool safety

While the current pool regulations are designed to prevent drownings by providing a safe environment for all swimmers, there are still risks around any body of water regardless of the pool fence. The following guidelines are designed to help pool owners ensure there is safe use of their swimming pool and spa at all times.

  • Ensure your pool fencing is compliant with your state regulations.
  • Always remember, a pool fence isn’t a substitute for adult supervision.
  • Do not leave any child around water unsupervised regardless of their swimming ability.
  • Take your child to swimming lessons.
  • Consider taking a CPR course so you can assist in an emergency.
  • Display resuscitation instructions near your pool such as on your pool fence.
  • Place a ‘no diving’ sign if your pool is too shallow for diving.
  • Avoid leaving furniture and other climbable items near your pool.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol around water and while supervising children.

Feature image: Landscape design by Wyer & Co.