Swimming Pool Safety
Last year the Phoenix Fire Department responded to 91 drownings and near drownings. Most of these tragic incidences could have been prevented. In 1990 the City of Phoenix adopted a swimming pool barrier ordinance into the building code. The ordinance requires that all swimming pools built after May 4,1990 are required to have an interior barrier. Barriers shall be:
- Non-climbable fence or wall that is no less than 5 feet in height.
- All gates must be self-closing and self-latching and open outward from the pool.
- All latches must be no less than 4 ½ feet above the ground.
- Any opening in the fence or wall shall be no more than 4 inches wide. This prevents children from squeezing through.
If the home or swimming pool was built before May 4, 1990, and all the occupants of the dwelling are at least six years of age or older, it shall have an exterior barrier in place. Exterior barriers shall be:
- A minimum 5 feet high from grade with self-closing, self-latching gates “completely around the property”.
- All latches must be at least 4½ feet above the ground.
- Any openings in the fence or wall shall be no more than 4 inches wide. This prevents children from squeezing through.
*This is not a complete list of all swimming pool requirements. This is only to be used as a guide. For the complete swimming pool ordinance, please call the City of Phoenix Building Department at 602-262-7811.
It is the responsibility of Fire Prevention to secure temporary barriers to mitigate an immediate hazard. Responding to calls from our citizens, Fire Prevention Specialist respond to these pools to secure the pool barrier in order to prevent a drowning. The Fire Prevention Specialist use a “Pool Abatement Team Vehicle”, which carries all the necessary fence repair and building equipment, to temporary secure the pool fence or gate. After the pool has a temporary fence or is secure, the Neighborhood Services Department or the Development Services Department will follow up to ensure that permanent repairs are made. For questions please call our pool safety hot line at 602-495-5555, or click here. For CPR information please click here.
Water Safety Can Reduce the Number of Pool Drownings in Arizona
Along with reports of our great year-round weather in the Valley of the Sun often come news reports of accidental deaths by drowning. This makes water safety a high priority for Arizonans where the potential for disaster from swimming pool drownings exists all year long.
On average, nearly 90 people die from drowning in Arizona each year with the majority of those deaths happening between April and August. This comes as no surprise since Arizona summers are known for outdoor recreation including swimming and boating.
Although they make up only 20% of the number of total drowning deaths in Arizona according to the Arizona Department of Health Services, news reports usually center on children who have drowned in their family’s or a friend’s backyard swimming pool. Most of them, about 75%, were being supervised around water by at least one adult and were out of the sight of those adults for 5 minutes or less.
While less than half of all drowning deaths in the state involve swimming pool accidents, owners of swimming pools must adhere to stringent state and local building codes.
However, the best way to prevent swimming pool drownings is by following simple water safety procedures including these from the National Safety Council:
- Never swim alone.
- Never leave a child alone near water. If you must leave, take your child with you.
- Enroll children over age three in swimming lessons taught by qualified instructors.
In addition to water safety relating to swimming pools, you must be aware of other drowning dangers, especially for children, in and around your home. These include bathtubs, decorative ponds, and even mop buckets. It only takes 2 inches of water and a couple of minutes for a small child to drown.
Carelessness while participating in water sports, including boating, tubing, and piloting personal watercraft, contributes to many drowning deaths in Arizona. Following these water safety tips from the National Safety Council can help prevent such tragedies:
- Always use approved personal flotation devices (life jackets).
- Don’t jump or dive into unknown bodies of water.
- Always have a first-aid kit and emergency phone contacts handy.
- Never consume alcohol when operating a boat or other watercraft.
Arizona is a wonderland for outdoor recreation throughout the year. It’s also well known for being consistently above the national average for drowning deaths. Water safety is serious business. Following these few simple rules can keep your outdoor activities fun, and your friends and family safe for many summers to come.