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Fences & Gates

SAFER: Fences & Gates

75% of drowning deaths of children younger than 15 occur at swimming pools at a private residence.  Anyone who has cared for a toddler knows how fast young children can move. Toddlers are inquisitive and impulsive and lack a realistic sense of danger. These behaviors make swimming pools particularly hazardous for households with young children. Consumer Product Safety Commission.


  1.  Make sure there are 4" sided isolation fences that are at least 4" high with self-closing and self-latching gates that open out.

    • There should be upright bars no more than 4” apart. Eliminate handholds and footholds.

  2.  ​​It is not sufficient to have the house on one side of the enclosure.

    • ​Get a temporary mesh fence that can be installed and removed when children aren’t present.

    • Life Saver Pool Fence is a mesh fence that can be easily installed and taken out as needed:

  3.  Get locks for the gate and if it opens with a key, keep the key out of reach of children.

  4.  There are now pool alarms that use AI to detect a drowning victim

  5.  Remove any furniture that a child could use to climb over a fence.

  6.  Never leave the gate propped open.

  7.  When the pool is not in use, remove toys that could be an attraction to young children.

  8. ​​ Do not have a pet or doggy door that leads directly to the pool area.

    • A toddler may mimic their pet and may follow them right out through a doggy door and into the pool area.

    • There are alternatives to the typical flap-style pet door closure including some with locking mechanisms and others that are activated by a dog's radio collar.

  9.  Have a safety assessment of pools and fences done regularly.

  10.  Install door alarms, child-resistant locks, and accidental immersion detection alarms in pools.

  11.  Get wristband immersion alarms for young children.

  12.  Use pool covers. (But don’t rely on them)

  13.  Remove ladders to above-ground pools when not in use.

  14.  Make sure spas, hot tubs, and above-ground pools are fenced and covered.

  15.  Make sure the toilets in your house have latches to keep lids closed.

  16.  Have locks on laundry rooms, bathrooms and other rooms where water is present.

  17.  Empty inflatable pools as well as buckets or other containers of water.

  18.  Ask neighbors and relatives to have safety assessments.

  19.  Talk to caregivers, service people and others about being sure to close gates.

  20.  Be aware of irrigation and drainage ditches as well as birdbaths, fountains and ponds.



If you have any questions or additional information that you think could be helpful to this page or drowning prevention in general, please do not hesitate to contact the SWIM ON Foundation.


The Stats

  • Proper fencing can reduce childhood drowning by 50%.

  • An Australian study found that in cases of drowning deaths where a barrier had been breached, 63% of victims entered through an open or unlocked gate.

  • ​​17% of drownings at a private residence occur in above-ground pools.

  • ​​9% of child drownings occur in portable pools.

SWIM ON Foundation is a 501(C)(3) non-profit organization. EIN: 83-4306115 

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