You just bought a new house with a swimming pool. Congratulations! You’re probably excited to take a dive and cool off on those hot Florida days. But hold on before diving in – you need to ensure your pool is legal.
All new residential swimming pools in Florida must comply with the Preston de Ibern/McKenzie Merriam Residential Swimming Pool Safety Act. This Act provides safety requirements for all new residential swimming pools, including proper fencing, barriers, and signage.
If your swimming pool was built before 2000, it might not comply with the current safety requirements. But don’t worry, you have options. You may bring your swimming pool into compliance by installing a self-closing and self-latching gate, adding a fence or barrier around the pool, or putting up warning signs.
Read on to learn more about the Residential Swimming Pool Safety Act and how to make your swimming pool safe and legal in Florida.
Overview of the Florida Residential Swimming Pool Safety Act
The Residential Swimming Pool Safety Act was implemented to reduce the number of drownings in Florida. This Act provides safety requirements for all new residential swimming pools.
This law is vital for two reasons. First, it helps keep people safe. Second, it can be used as a legal defense if someone is involved in a swimming pool accident, such as drowning.
If you’re in the market for a new swimming pool, it’s important to understand the requirements of the Residential Swimming Pool Safety Act. And if you’re injured or lost a loved one in a swimming pool accident, it’s crucial to have an experienced pool drowning attorney on your side.
Section 515.27 of the Florida Residential Swimming Pool Safety Act requires that all newly constructed swimming pools must have at least one of the following pool safety features:
- The pool must be isolated from access to a home by an enclosure that is compliant with Florida residential swimming pool barrier requirements;
- The pool must be equipped with an approved safety pool cover;
- All doors and windows providing direct access from the home to the pool must be equipped with an exit alarm that has a minimum sound pressure rating of 85 dB A at 10 feet;
- All doors providing direct access from the home to the pool must be equipped with a self-closing, self-latching device with a release mechanism placed no lower than 54 inches above the floor; or
- A swimming pool alarm that, when placed in a pool, sounds an alarm upon detection of an accidental or unauthorized entrance into the water.
The Florida Residential Swimming Pool Safety Act also requires that residential swimming pools have all the following pool barrier requirements:
- The barrier must be at least 4 feet high on the outside;
- The barrier may not have any gaps, openings, indentations, protrusions, or structural components that could allow a young child to crawl under, squeeze through, or climb over the barrier;
- The barrier must be placed around the perimeter of the pool and must be separate from any fence, wall, or other enclosure surrounding the yard unless the fence, wall, or other enclosure or portion thereof is situated on the perimeter of the pool, is being used as part of the barrier, and meets the barrier requirements of this section; and,
- The barrier must be placed sufficiently away from the water’s edge to prevent a young child or medically frail elderly person who may have managed to penetrate the barrier from immediately falling into the water.
Windows and other openings within two feet of the top of the pool barrier must have one of these two features: be protected by a removable barrier or else have an alarm that sounds when someone opens them. Also, if underwater lights are attached to the pool wall, they must have safety covers specifically designed for underwater use.
If your municipal code enforcement office or local building inspector has deemed your swimming pool legal, then you can be sure that it meets all of these requirements set forth by the Preston de Ibern/McKenzie Merriam Residential Swimming Pool Safety Act. However, these basic requirements do not ensure everyone’s safety alone.
What to Do if Your Swimming Pool Does Not Meet Legal Requirements
If you discover that your swimming pool does not meet the Florida legal requirements, don’t fret. You can take steps to make sure your swimming pool complies with the Act.
First, it’s essential to consult a qualified contractor familiar with the laws. They can help you determine what needs to be done to bring your swimming pool into compliance with the Act.
You may need to invest in fencing, self-closing and self-latching gates, anti-entrapment drain covers, or any other safety feature designed to protect against unintended access by young children. Depending on your situation, you may also need to install an alarm system that can alert you if someone enters the pool area when you are not around.
It’s important to note that all modifications made must also comply with local building codes. So even if your modifications meet the state requirements, they still must satisfy all local regulations before they can be approved and implemented. Make sure that any contractor you hire understands all applicable laws and regulations, so they are up-to-date on all the latest changes in pool safety standards and will properly advise you on how best to proceed with a legal swimming pool installation.
How to Make Sure Your Swimming Pool Is Up to Code
If you are planning to install a new pool or already have an existing one, it’s essential to check that it meets the Florida Residential Swimming Pool Safety Act requirements. To make sure your pool is up to code, here are some steps you can take:
- Have your pool inspected by a licensed inspector who understands the Act and any local regulations.
- Make sure the surrounding fencing is tall enough and free of gaps or obstacles so young children cannot climb over it.
- Install self-closing and latching gates, and equip them with alarms that detect when a child opens them.
- Position gates, so they open away from the swimming area.
- Keep furniture or other items far away from gates and fences that could be used to climb over them.
- Make sure any portable or in-ground hot tubs are secured and have additional barriers if intended for use by small children.
Get Help from an Experienced Swimming Pool Drowning Attorney
If you are a Florida homeowner with a swimming pool, or are thinking about installing a pool, it is important to be aware of the state regulations surrounding pool safety. These regulations are in place to help reduce the number of drownings, and they apply to all new residential swimming pools.
At Prosper Shaked Accident Injury Attorneys PA we fully support Preston de Ibern/McKenzie Merriam Residential Swimming Pool Safety Act. However, we firmly believe that these requirements are minimal. While the law requires only one safety feature, it is in the interests of anyone who may have access to the pool to implement as many of the safety features as possible. Unfortunately, there are thousands of homes throughout Florida that are not compliant with the basic requirements of Florida law. In the event that an individual falls victim to a drowning, we are here to help.