Drowning is the leading cause of accidental death for children under age 5 in Florida, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Because pools are more prevalent in these warm, sunny climates, extra precautions must be taken to protect all from the dangers of swimming pools if children are left unattended. To provide further direction and safety laws, Florida passed the Preston de Ibern/McKenzie Merriam Residential Swimming Pool Safety Act, which set forth guidelines concerning safety in swimming pools, spas and hot tubs.
The Residential Pool Safety Act stipulates that all swimming pools built after 2001 must be equipped with the following safety measures, according to the City of Pinellas Park: a 4-foot tall barrier that surrounds all pool sides, a sanctioned cover for the pool; a self-closing, self-locking apparatus for all pool area entrances; or alarms on doors or windows that grant direct access to the pool.
The Residential Pool Safety Act only applies to pools built after 2001. Pools built before then do not have to meet the same safety guidelines, but they are encouraged to on the basis of offering increased safety to the homeowner and all who may swim there.
When constructing a new pool, your contractor is legally required by Florida law to give you a document outlining pool safety laws as well as drowning safety techniques. The document is called "Safety Barrier Guidelines for Home Pools." Depending upon the county, a number of permits may be required to ensure the pool construction meets safety codes. Your contractor should be responsible for obtaining these for you, according to the University of Florida IFAS Extension.
In addition to laws requiring coverings or limits to access, Florida Building Code stipulates that the pool must have protection that reduces entrapment risk, such as becoming trapped against a pool drain. Examples of protective aspects include drain covers and suction fittings.
Those who fail to follow pool safety rules could face a number of legal actions. For example, if your pool was built after the Residential Pool Safety Act went into place, you and your contractor could face criminal charges. If you do not hire a contractor who is properly licensed, you also could face criminal charges, according to the University of Florida IFAS Extension.
- Photo Credit colorful pool toy floating in a summer pool image by Jorge Moro from Fotolia.com
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