“Two seconds is too long.”
—Pool safety awareness slogan

Each year, nationwide, about 300 children under five years of age drown in swimming pools, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. In addition, more than 2,000 children in that age group are treated annually in hospital emergency rooms for submersion injuries. In Arizona, drowning is the leading cause of accidental death to children under five. In response to these tragic statistics, pool barrier laws have been enacted by the Arizona State Legislature and by cities and towns across Arizona. In this, we will examine the state law regulating pool enclosures.

Under state law, a swimming pool (or other contained body of water intended for swimming that is 18 inches deep and wider than eight feet) must be entirely enclosed by at least a five-foot wall, fence or other barrier. The enclosure require­ment applies to below-ground and above-ground pools alike.

The wall, fence or barrier can have no openings through which a spherical object four inches in diameter can pass. The horizontal components of the pool enclosure must be spaced not less than 45 inches apart measured vertically, or must be placed on the pool side of the wall, fence or barrier which cannot have any opening greater than one and three-quarter inches measured horizontally. Wire mesh or chain-link fences must have a maximum mesh size of one and three-quarter inches measured horizontally.

Gates for the enclosure must be self-closing and self-latch­ing, and open outward from the pool. The law imposes height and other restrictions on the latch, which vary according to the location of the latch relative to the pool.

The wall, fence or barrier must not contain any openings, handholds or footholds accessible from the exterior side that could be used to climb the enclosure. The wall, fence or barrier must be at least 20 inches from the water’s edge.

If a house constitutes part of the enclosure required by law, then:

  1. there must be a minimum four-foot wall, fence or barrier between the swimming pool and the house; or
  2. the pool must be protected by a motorized safety pool cover which requires the operation of a key switch and meets other standards; or
  3. all ground-level doors with direct access to the pool must be equipped with self-latching devices, and windows must be equipped with latching devices, screwed in place wire mesh screens, or keyed locks, depending on their purpose and location; or
  4. if the pool is above ground, it must have non-climbable exterior sides at least four feet high and any access ladder or steps must be removed and safely secured.

The pool enclosure requirements under state law do not apply to pools constructed before the enactment of the statute (June 2, 1991), to public or semi-public swimming pools, or to a residence in which all residents are at least six years of age.

Every swimming pool contractor and pool seller in Arizona is required to give the buyer or renter a notice explaining safety education and responsibilities of pool own­ership.

A person who violates Arizona’s pool enclosure law is guilty of a petty offense. No fine will be imposed, however, if the person installs the required pool enclosures within 45 days of the citation and attends a pool safety course.

Legal Tip:

Many cities and towns also have swimming pool barrier requirements. These requirements vary from place to place, and may be more stringent than state law. Every pool owner is advised to check his local pool barrier ordinance to ensure compliance.

The above article is an excerpt from Arizona Laws 101: A Handbook for Non-Lawyers, 2nd Edition (Fenestra Books, 2012), by Donald A. Loose, republished with the author’s permission. 

Disclaimer: Laws change constantly. Specific legal advice should be obtained regarding any legal matter. The information contained on this website does not constitute legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is created. 

Have any questions about this topic?
We’re ready to listen.

Don Loose Author
Lawyer | Loose Law Group | View My Profile

Donald A. Loose is an Arizona attorney, and the author of Arizona Laws 101: A Handbook for Non-Lawyers, and Estate Planning in Arizona: What You Need to Know.  Mr. Loose is a regular guest on radio shows featuring local newsmaker interviews. He may be contacted at don@looselawgroup.com.