A swimming pool fence is an enclosure placed around a pool to prevent young children from falling into the pool and hurting themselves. The International Code Council actually outlines a list of guidelines that your pool fence should meet to be deemed safe.
Factors that Affect Safety
That said, the reliability and safety of your pool fence is determined by the fence’s location, the durability of its materials and its ability to prevents kids from climbing it. So, how tall does your pool fence need to be to prevent kids from gaining access?
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends pool fence heights of no less than 48 inches, or four feet. The Consumer Safety Product Commission also recommends not going under this threshold of 48 inches.
To play it more safe, both the National Drowning Prevention Alliance and Safe Kids USA say that 60 inches, or five feet, is the minimum pool fence height that should be considered safe.
Recent studies suggest that this 60-inch threshold is actually more safe and effective in preventing kids from hurting themselves. Perhaps this is why the majority of cities and adoption agencies have agreed with the National Drowning Prevention Alliance and made 60 inches the minimum pool fence height to meet code compliance.
What do Experts Say?
Experts say that provided a given fence is comprised of durable materials and correctly installed that there is not a substantial difference in safety between a 48-inch and 60-inch fence. There might even be more slackness in a 60-inch high fence because of the concentric nature and tension involved in fence construction generally.
Most municipalities that make a judgement on which fence height is most safe, again, have gone with the 60-inch threshold. Conventional wisdom, however, dictates that a child who can climb four feet can also climb five feet.
A good counterargument is that because these fences, whether four feet or five feet in height, are meant to deter children ages five and under, who are usually shy of four feet tall themselves, the five-foot high fence will come off as a little more intimidating and, therefore, deter climbing.
Deciding on whether to install a four-foot fence or five-foot fence will probably depend on the following factors: the durability of the materials, local codes and statutes, the amount and type of children around the pool and even the depth of the pool.