In January 2003 a law was passed in France regarding swimming pool security with a deadline of implementing defined security measures by January 2006. The law has been put in place with children under 5 in mind – so when we talk about 'security' we are referring to child safety. The law applies to all pools, not just homes with pools that have a child under 5 years old.
If you own a holiday home in France with a pool it is important you are aware of (and understand) the law as inspectors check homes with pools, with a €45,000 fine for pools with incorrect installations and barriers.
Semi in-ground pools and above ground pools are not within the scope of the law. For child safety the pool entrance mechanism (usually a ladder) should be removed when not in use.
Both private and shared use (Gites, chambres de hotes etc) in ground pools need to have suitable AFNOR approved security systems.
Types of approved security systems:
Security Barriers, AFNOR standard: NF P 90-306
Provides good security from the pool and should also have an outward opening gate with two mechanisms needed to open.
Pool Alarms, AFNOR standard: NF P 90-307
Come in two forms, Immersion detectors or perimeter alarms.
Pool Covers, AFNOR standard: NF P 90-308
Due to the law noting being that old, check your cover to ensure it meets with requirements.
Pool Abris, AFNOR standard: NF P 90-309
By far the most expensive option however does have various upsides such as stopping evaporation, keeping the pool clean and if big enough can provide an 'indoor' heated pool in the winter.
You can determine which method will best suit your needs, below are few details to assist your decision:
One of the most simple measures is to erect a barrier around the pool. Obviously there is a view that this can somewhat spoil the picturesque nature of having a pool area however safety for young chikdren must be foremost in your thoughts.
So what are the rules? Hedges and other natural barriers do not count. The barriers can be combined with walls from the dwelling or other dwellings at the pool zone. The type of barrier chosen (many are available such as Perspex, wood fences, UPVC and metal barriers) must be AFNOR approved. You can of course build your own wall however you must ensure there are no footholds in the wall to allow climbing so a smooth rendered walls as an example would be ok.
The aim of the rules is to stop children of less than 5 years from accesses the pool by themselves. The barriers must be a minimum height of 1.1 meters high and no more than 1 meter from the pool edge abut not be so far away from the pool to be rendered ineffective (such as a wall around the garden).
If you have a barrier around the pool how do I access it? Well, it is also a requirement you have a outward opening, self locking and self closing gate (i.e. a child proof gate) which should be a minimum resistance force of 20N. This is a requirement for collective use pools.
The chosen barrier must be AFNOR approved check that your chosen fencing/barrier has this before purchasing.
Alarms for the pool
If a barrier around the pool is not desirable then you can look to install a pool alarm (or you could combine with a barrier for added protection). Essentially the alarms detect motion in the pool and triggers an alarm. This is great for detecting accidental falls into a pool however there remains a risk of a small child climbing down pool stairs slowly and not setting off a motion strong enough to trigger the alarm. Slightly different to a submerged alarm is a perimeter alarm around the pool. This will consist of an infrared beam around the pool edge which when broker will trigger the alarm.
These are alarm types are probably the cheapest option but it is clear why this option is not the best. With no barrier to the pool they are only effective when an adult is within easy reach of the pool. We are sure you would be more relaxed letting a child play in the garden with a barrier around the pool rather than just an alarm in the pool. The testing is more onerous on the owner (once a month) and false alarms are possible and may desensitise you slightly you to the importance and urgency of an alarm trigger. Also, if a child does fall into the pool and no adult is available to help the responsibility lays with the homeowner. If you are renting a property out you may have to seriously question the viability of this option.
Ideally these should be used as a secondary measure with a barrier.
Pool covers & abris
A pool cover is only a useful safety device if it is placed on the pool when not in use. Covers that enable you to winterise need to be AFNOR approve (if this is your only form of pool security). If you go for this option the last thing you would want is a cover that is difficult, complicated or slow to get on and off so keep this in mind when selecting. A pool is there to be enjoyed easily after all! If you have other security measures a cover is good solar protection and also stops evaporation.
An abris is probably the most expensive option buy by quite a way. An abri looks essentially like a greenhouse and there are very many options for the purchaser. You can buy fixed versions that are big enough to walk around in. You can have telescopic versions (that retract) that are also big enough to walk around in or shorter version that essentially just protect the pool which would have to be removed if the pool was to be used.
One advantage of all abris is that they can be very effective at keep thing the pool temperature high and keep most (if not all) foliage out of the pool.
Security devices for child safety are law however just complying with the law doesn't mean children will be safe in the garden around a pool. Children are very intelligent creatures that adapt and overcome the most complex tasks so the security required by law is only effective with good adult supervision of young children at all times.
If you have found this tips and advice article helpful, why not contact us when your holiday home insurance is due for renewal? We would be very happy to speak with you.
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