What Are the Pool Fence Requirements and Regulations in St. Louis?

December 9, 2020Premises Liability

Whether you already have one, or if you are planning to build or buy a swimming pool, one of the things you need to consider is the pool fencing options. Missouri state law mandates that every pool has a fence or other structure surrounding it. Property owners who fail to observe this requirement may get fined, face other legal actions from their county, or may be legally liable for a resulting injury.

St. Louis Pool Fence Requirements and Regulations

Pool fencing requirements and regulations are decided at the state and local level, which means regulations can vary based on which neighborhood you live in. Since the state requires a fence or other structure, it is in your best interest to check with your county government on the exact regulations that apply to you.

Generally, the following basic regulations found in the International Building Code section 305 are adhered to:

  • Height: A minimum of 4 feet or higher (when measuring on the outer side)
  • When the house acts as the fourth wall of a fence: any door or window leading directly outside to the pool must be equipped with an alarm. Alternatively, owners can install a pool cover.
  • Clearance: The clearance under the fence should be 4 inches or less, or 2 inches max if the ground is a non-solid surface such as gravel. This is in order to prevent small children from getting through underneath.
  • Climbing prevention: The fence’s exterior should be clear of any handholds/footholds and large fixed objects, such as a planter or pool pump, to prevent children from climbing over the fence.
  • Gate: Pool gates must be self-closing and self-latching.

The materials that can be used to build a pool fence are not dictated by code. The most popular types used are glass, wood, steel, movable mesh, aluminum, and PVC. If the fence will be built taller than four feet, then most jurisdictions require a permit.

Types of Pools that Require a Fence

Fences are required for swimming pools that are partially or completely in the ground. Depending on the water depth, aboveground pools may also need a fence. The exact depths may vary by local code, but typically it is a minimum of 18 to 24 inches. The same rule applies to hot tubs and outdoor spas, but you can choose to cover it rather than build a fence around it. On the other hand, portable pools typically do not legally need a fence, but they should be emptied and stored or covered when not in use.

Why are Pool Fences Required in Missouri?

Pool owners have a responsibility to protect guests and prevent unwanted visitors. Failing to comply with safety requirements and regulations can invite injury, and may make them legally liable if an injury occurs.

Drowning is also the second-leading cause of unintentional deaths among children between the ages of 1 and 14. An estimated 400 children under 15 drown each year in residential pools or spas, according to the Consumer Products Safety Commission. Missouri is ranked 19th for fatal drownings.

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