SELF-CLOSING, SELF-LOCKING GATES: Self-closing, self-latching gates are automatic and provide better protection if there are folks in the house that can’t remember to close a gate behind them. Because it does not have to be physically closed or locked by the user it is a more practical option when there are older children in the home who have unsupervised access to the swimming pool . A self-closing gate and its lock are mechanical devices located outside and subject to corrosion, wear from use, misalignment, and mechanical failure. Extra care must be taken to insure that the gate is functioning properly. Be sure that your gate is always installed to swing out or away from the pool or water.
How high should your pool fence be? Pool fence ranges from 3 1/2 feet to 5 feet high. For an average toddler we recommend you look at the 4 foot height. A child capable of climbing a 4 foot high fence will most likely also be able to go over 5 feet. It’s just a longer fall down the other side. A child with this kind of capability should already be well into a swimming program.
We talk to parents moving into a home with a pool for the first time who are nervous about a six year old around the pool accidentally falling in. Since a six year old can go over any height fence and the fence is being installed to basically keep them from just falling into the pool by accident, we would recommend a shorter height like 3 1/2 feet as long as this is the only child in the household.
How far apart should the fence support poles be? Support poles provide both tension and strength for the fence, so the less distance apart the better. We normally recommend 30 inches as a standard if you are making any turns with the fence at all. For straight runs, like across a patio, 36 inch pole spacing should be adequate.
What mesh material is best? The majority of pool fence manufacturers today use polyester mesh with vinyl coating. It is a continuous basket weave construction and is the strongest method today for manufacturing pool fence. The smooth vinyl coatings are mildew resistant and allow easy cleaning of the finished product, unlike the grainy finishes of older style dipped interlocking nylon products that had a tendency to trap both growths and dirt. The newer polyester meshes are also much more resistant to punctures and are virtually impossible for even an adult to rip.
Should the mesh be bordered? To be a finished product your pool fence mesh should also be bordered on all four sides with vinyl border. Not only does this provide a finished look to your fence but also prevents unraveling of the mesh itself. Check the border material to insure that it has visible reinforcing built into the vinyl to provide additional strength to the fence and eliminate sagging over time.
Remember, the fence should block off all access from the home to the pool. Half way measures here are like playing “Russian Roulette”. The only time the fence should be opened is when you are using the pool. Children learn quickly to operate door locks and open doors that have not been locked. Your last layer of protection to the pool should be your pool fence.
Do not forget your “fail safe” minimum of six layers of protection against drowning.
Adult supervision, locked doors, perimeter door alarms, the pool fence, pool alarms, and swimming lessons; all six must fail before your child can drown in your pool.