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Residential Swimming Pool Laws

Swimming PoolAccording to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, as many as 500 children under the age of five drown in swimming pools each year, and an additional 3,000 children require treatment in hospitals for injuries associated with near-drownings. While swimming accidents cause the second most deaths in America for youths, in California, drowning is the number one cause of death for children under the age of 14. To help prevent as many deaths and accidents as possible, California law requires that pool owners adhere to certain safety precautions.

Swimming Pool Safety act

California law requires that whenever a building permit is issued for the construction of a new swimming pool or spa or for the remodeling of an existing pool or spa at a private single-family home, it must be equipped with at least one of the following:

  • Isolation from access to a home by an enclosure meeting certain requirements;
  • Removable mesh pool fencing with a self-closing, self-latching, and lockable gate;
  • An approved safety pool cover;
  • Doors with direct access to pool equipped with exit alarms;
  • All doors with direct access from the home to the pool must be self-closing, self-latching, with a release mechanism at least 54 inches above floor level;
  • Swimming pool alarms that detect unauthorized entrance into the water, including surface, pressure, sonar, laser, and infrared type alarms; or
  • Other means of protection that is equal to or greater than that provided by the above devices.

Before the permit is approved, a local building code official must inspect the pool for compliance with the legal requirements.

Enclosures or Fences

If a homeowner opts to install an enclosure, it must meet the following requirements:

  • An access gate that opens away from the pool, is self-closing and self-latching with the latch placed at least 60 inches above ground level;
  • Is at least 60 inches high;
  • Has a space between the ground and the bottom of the enclosure that is no larger than two inches;
  • If there are any gaps in the fence, they cannot be large enough to allow an object to pass through that is four inches or more in diameter; and
  • Has a surface that is free of any characteristics that would allow a child under the age of five to climb over.
Mandatory Equipment

When issuing a building permit for a residential swimming pool, an inspector must verify that the pool is equipped with:

  • A suction outlet that will provide circulation;
  • At least two circulation drains;
  • Anti-entrapment grates; and
  • A backup safety system.
Notable Exceptions

While these laws are very strict for most residential pools, they do not apply to:

  • Public swimming pools;
  • Hot tubs with locking safety covers;
  • Any pool within the jurisdiction of a political subdivision; or
  • An apartment complex or residential setting other than a single-family home.

Public swimming pools are generally required to meet certain safety protocols that are listed under a separate regulation applicable only to non-residential pools.

If you or a loved one have been injured as a result of a swimming pool accident in California and you believe that the pool owner’s negligence or non-compliance with the law was the cause of that injury, an experienced attorney may be able to help you obtain compensation for your injuries. Please call a skilled San Jose personal injury attorney at Corsiglia McMahon & Allard, L.L.P. to discuss your case.

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