Understanding the Florida Residential Swimming Pool Safety Act

Did you know that in the state of Florida, drowning is the leading cause of death of young children and is also a significant cause of death for medically frail elderly persons?  The key to reducing the number of submersion incidents is pretty basic.  It’s adult supervision.  And when lapses in supervision occur a pool safety feature designed to deny, delay, or detect unsupervised entry to the swimming pool, spa, or hot tub will reduce drowning and near-drowning incidents. With this said, back in 2000 the Florida Legislature enacted the “Preston de Ibern/Mckenzie Merriam Residential Swimming Pool Safety Act” which requires all new residential swimming pools, spas, and hot tubs be equipped with at least one pool safety feature and required the Department of Health be responsible for producing its own or adopting a nationally recognized publication that provides the public with information on drowning prevention and the responsibilities of pool ownership.

A licensed pool contractor, on entering an agreement with a pool owner must give the pool owner a document which provides information on drowning prevention and the responsibilities of pool ownership. Additionally, in order to pass a final inspection and receive a certificate of completion, a residential swimming pool must meet at least one of the following requirements relating to pool safety features

Pool Barrier or Pool Fence Requirements

A residential swimming pool fence must have all of the following characteristics:

  1. the barrier must be at least 4 feet high on the outside
  2. 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
  3. 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 is situated on the perimeter of the pool, is being used as part of the barrier, and meets the barrier requirements of the statute
  4. 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.

Gates that provide access to swimming pools must open outward away from the pool and be self-closing and equipped with a self-latching locking device, the release mechanism of the gate must be located on the pool side and placed so that it cannot be reached by a young child over the top or through any opening or gap. A wall of a dwelling may serve as part of the barrier if it does not contain any door or window that opens to provide access to the swimming pool. A barrier may not be in a way that allows any permanent structure, equipment, or similar object to be used for climbing the barrier

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