A successful pool barrier prevents a child from getting over, under, or through the barrier and keeps the child from gaining access to the pool when adults are not present.
To prevent a child from getting OVER a pool barrier. The first thing that you need to do is make sure it is not too low. If the child is tall enough, they can easily climb over the barrier—which makes the barrier useless. Make sure you watch out for climbing options. If the barrier has handholds or footholds, make sure they won’t serve as a climbing option for your child to use to climb over the barrier. Also look for any indentions or protrusions if your barrier is solid. This could also be used to help your child climb over. Barrier height is also another factor. Make sure the barrier is at least 48” above grade, measured on the side of the barrier which faces away from the swimming pool. Some states, countries, or municipalities require a barrier of 60”, so be sure to read the rules in your area.
To prevent a child from getting UNDER a pool barrier, the maximum clearance at the bottom of the barrier should not exceed 4” above the surface or ground when the measurement is done on the side of the barrier facing away from the pool. This helps prevent a small child from getting underneath the barrier to the pool, or even from getting stuck between the two. It is also recommended that if the bottom of the gate or fence rests on a non-solid surface like grass or gravel, the measurement should not exceed 2”. This is because it is easy for a child or animal to dig a hole which could give them access to the pool and make the barrier useless.
To prevent a child from getting THROUGH the pool barrier, you first need to restrict the sizes of the opening in a barrier and use self-closing and self-latching gates. If your neighbors have a pool or spa, make sure they also have pool barriers that are safe for your child, just in case something happens and your child ends up over there. To prevent a young child from getting through a fence or other barrier, all opening should be small enough so that a 4” diameter sphere cannot pass through. This size is based on the head breadth and chest depth of a young child. When children play, you would be surprised the things they can get into! Make sure they are being safe and keep your pool off limits unless your child has adult supervision.
It’s better to be safe than sorry!