Swimming pool fencing

Pool fencing is designed to reduce children’s unintended access to swimming pools and to prevent drowning. As of 2014, drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury death for children between 1 and 14 years old, and the leading cause for children between 1 to 4 years old (CDC-Cause of death). Fences can be installed voluntarily by homeowners or public entities, or be required by regulation.

Expected Beneficial Outcomes (Rated)

  • Reduced fatal and non-fatal injuries

Evidence of Effectiveness

There is strong evidence that swimming pool fences decrease injury and reduce the risk of drowning death among children (Cochrane-Thompson 2010*, Wallis 2015*). The CDC and the US Consumer Product Safety Commission recommend fencing pools to prevent drowning and injury, especially among young children (CDC-Drowning, US CPSC-Pool Fencing).

Research suggests that pool fencing ordinances are more effective with strong enforcement of installation (Wallis 2015*). Effective legislation about pool fencing also requires four-sided, climb-resistant isolation fencing with secure, self-latching gates, as well as strict inspections for all existing and newly constructed pools (public, semi-public, and private) (Mott 2016*, AAP-Drowning 2010).

Fencing that completely encircles a pool and isolates it from the house is much more effective than fencing which allows children to gain access to the pool through the house (Cochrane-Thompson 2010*).

Impact on Disparities

No impact on disparities likely

Implementation Examples

Pool fencing regulations that require fencing around private swimming pools are common in many states and municipalities, for example: New York state (NY Pool rules) and Fairfax County, Virginia (Fairfax-Codes). 

Implementation Resources

CDC-Drowning - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Drowning prevention.

CDC-MAHC - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The Model Aquatic Health Code (MAHC): An all-inclusive model public swimming pool and spa code.

US CPSC-Pool Fencing - US Consumer Product Safety Commission (US CPSC). Safety barrier guidelines for residential pools: Preventing child drownings. Washington, DC: US Consumer Product Safety Commission (US CPSC): Pub. No. 362.

Citations - Evidence

* Journal subscription may be required for access.

Cochrane-Thompson 2010* - Thompson DC, Rivara F. Pool fencing for preventing drowning of children. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2010;(1):CD001047.

Wallis 2015* - Wallis BA, Watt K, Franklin RC, et al. Interventions associated with drowning prevention in children and adolescents: Systematic literature review. Injury Prevention. 2015;21(3):195–204.

CDC-Drowning - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Drowning prevention.

US CPSC-Pool Fencing - US Consumer Product Safety Commission (US CPSC). Safety barrier guidelines for residential pools: Preventing child drownings. Washington, DC: US Consumer Product Safety Commission (US CPSC): Pub. No. 362.

Mott 2016* - Mott TF, Latimer KM. Prevention and Treatment of Drowning. American Family Physician. 2016;93(7):576–582.

AAP-Drowning 2010 - American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), Committee on Injury, Violence, and Poison Prevention. Policy Statement-Prevention of Drowning. Pediatrics. 2010;126(1):178-185.

Citations - Implementation Examples

* Journal subscription may be required for access.

NY Pool rules - New York Department of State Division of Code Enforcement & Administration (DCEA). Swimming pool rules and regulations found in the uniform fire prevention and building code (uniform code).

Fairfax-Codes - Fairfax County Virginia. Swimming pool codes and permits.

Date Last Updated