How can I keep my above-ground pool safe?

girl standing outside a pool safety fence

Understanding Pool Safety

Every day in this country, 10 people die from accidental drowning, and too often, those events are in private swimming pools.  While there has been national attention on this, there still isn’t any federal law mandating pool safety fences be installed around every swimming pool.  

A swimming pool in your backyard can be a beautiful part of your landscaping. It is a convenient source of entertainment and considered an upgrade to any home. However, this attractive feature can also be a nuisance and safety issue. Fortunately, a pool safety fence can make a swimming pool far safer, and there are attractive fences that can be a part of the landscape too. 

So, in Texas, is there a law that you need to have a fence around a pool?

If you have a swimming pool installed on your property in Texas, you are required to follow all state laws in pool safety, fences being the main one. This is for the safety of any children in your home as well as neighborhood children. Pool safety fences and barriers have proven to save lives, and if a homeowner isn’t following the law, there are stiff fines as well as possibility of lawsuits. 

What kind of fence do I need for a pool?

The following is a summary of the state laws on how to install pool fences in Texas. The company that installs your swimming pool can suggest where to buy pool fences, and that company can provide you a copy or advise where to get the complete and thorough state laws and rule on swimming pool ownership responsibilities: 

  • All swimming pools must have a pool safety fence surrounding the pool at a minimum of 48 inches tall and cannot be chain link or any material and style that a child can climb.
  • All pool safety fences cannot have a gap along the bottom or made of vertical fence slats that a 4” round diameter ball can fit through. 
  • If a pool safety fence must have horizontal and vertical slats, with all slat attachments on the inside of the fence.
  • All gates to pool safety fences must no shorter than 48 inches and must meet the same fence requirements, be self-closing and self-latching, and the latch installed on the inside of the gate, with the gate swing inward, away from the swimming pool.
  • All doors that lead toward the swimming pool must be self-closing and self-latching, with a keyless bolt-type device that is a minimum of 36” off the floor. Any wall of the home with a door leading to the swimming pool must be equipped with an alarm that sounds if door is opened. 
  • These rules apply to both above-ground swimming pools and in-ground pools. 

Every municipality in Texas is required to enforce these state-mandated rules and may have other swimming pool laws as well. Maintaining a swimming pool includes pool safety fences along with the other pool maintenance like replacing drain covers as needed, balancing pool chemicals, and posting signs about no diving into shallow water. 

Can my pool fence still be architectural with the house? 

Yes, your pool safety fence can be built to match your home’s architectural styling! A pool safety fence is the first line of defense between the neighborhood kids and your swimming pool. There are multiple types of fencing materials including the following: 

  • A Temporary Pool Safety Fence: This is common pool safety fence that is meant to be temporary until your permanent fence can be installed. It is placed around the pool edge, leaving some leeway. The pool company, a fence company, or you can install this fence. It is durable and lightweight, and still strong enough to keep children out. They come with a water-filled base, so no concrete drilling is necessary. The downside to this type of fencing, which is why it is temporary, are the poles. They bend easy, even by children which is where the difference between a pool safety net vs fence is a key factor.  
  • Metal: Wrought iron is one of the most popular choices. Durable and rust-resistant, can be an addition to the landscaping around the pool and still provide that pool safety fence requirement. 
  • Wood: Next to wrought iron, a wooden privacy fence is a common choice. You can choose from a multitude of patterns and styles and is one of the least expensive pool safety fence options. It can be a DIY project, or you can pay a contractor to install this fence. Either way, it must be the standards of the U.S. Consumer Safety Product Commission. The board-next-to-board or board on board are options that keep children from slipping through. A durable material that offers a long lifespan and can be painted or stained to match your home’s architecture.  Downsides to this type of fence is the upkeep of replacing boards and post from time-to-time, and the repainting or re-staining every few years. Installation can be an issue on uneven ground.  
  • Vinyl: This pool safety fence can mimic a wooden fence but won’t have the maintenance issues! Aesthetically pleasing for any architectural style home and has a 30 year or longer lifespan. A downside can be the cost of cementing the posts and repairs can be costly. 
  • Glass: The most expensive of all pool safety fences and can only be installed professionally. The maintenance and upkeep is constant and the expense of possible repairs. 

What is the minimum height for a fence around a pool?

In Texas, pool safety fences for residential swimming pools cannot be any less than 48” tall. The gap along the bottom cannot be any less than 4” from the ground. And the gates must be self-closing and have inside self-locking latches. 

Does a pool fence need to be earthed?

Earthing is the process of grounding your swimming pool and dissipating the harmful electrical current to the ground and away from the swimming pool.

This is needed when your swimming has any electrical equipment, the pool pump is an example, that can present a possible hazardous voltage in case of equipment failure. Even the low voltage in your swimming pool can cause a minor electric shock, resulting in a person having muscle spasms with a potential of drowning.

Earthing requirement isn’t always mentioned by the pool safety fence installer if not a requirement by the state for pool safety certification. As the homeowner, it is something you should inquire about and request. 

How much does it cost to install a pool safety fence?

It will depend on what type of pool safety fence you choose, with the height and total length required to properly fence your pool.  Prices can vary greatly based on where you live, what type of material you choose, and how large of an area you need to enclose. Getting in touch with a contractor can allow you to have a better estimate of the cost.

wooden fence around a pool

In Closing – Do I need a fence for my inflatable pool?

This isn’t an odd question to ask because a person can drown in a quarter of a cup of water! A swimming pool that is over 18 inches deep is required to have pool safety fence or barrier a minimum of 4 feet high.