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Pool and spa safety

Permits, guidelines and resources for public pools and spas

Are you an owner or manager of a public or semi-public pool or spa? Public Health's Water recreation program has information about the plan review process, inspections, forms and applications, building codes, and more.

A backyard pool or spa/hot tub can be fun but it's important to think about child safety when you install one. Most drownings of children ages 1 to 4 happen in residential swimming pools. Reports show that most young children who drowned in pools were:

  • Last seen in the home
  • Had been out of sight for less than five minutes
  • Were in the care of one or both parents at the time

This is why pool fencing and other barriers are so important.

Pool and spa fencing

Washington State Department of Health has guidelines for adding required pool barriers. Pool fencing and other barriers help prevent children from getting to pools and spas by themselves. The fence or barrier should separate the house and play areas of the yard from the pool or spa. You can add extra safety measures like automatic door locks or alarms that sound if someone enters the area.

Pool safety tips

Here are some other important safety practices:

  • Have a supervisor while children are in the pool. An adult should be close enough to reach a child at all times. Adults should avoid distracting activities like being on their phone, doing yard work, reading, etc.
  • Make sure that your pool or spa has anti-entrapment drain covers.
  • Do not use air-filled or foam toys in place of life jackets. Water wings, noodles, or inner tubes are not designed to keep swimmers safe.
  • Keep areas around pools and spas clear of toys. Remove pool toys and floats after use so children aren't tempted to return, or lean over the water and accidentally fall in.
  • Learn to swim. Swimming lessons can protect young children and other family members from drowning.
  • Learn CPR and first aid. If there is an emergency, your CPR skills could make a difference in someone's life while you wait for paramedics to arrive.